Do you routinely wait to complete assignments until the hours right before they’re due? Have all-nighters become a regular part of your weekly schedule? Has coffee become your go-to fuel to power midnight study sessions?
If so, you may be suffering from a bad case of procrastination — and you’re not alone. Many college students fall prey to this bad habit, but just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s the best way to navigate your academics! In fact, the habits associated with procrastination — rushing through assignments, getting little to no sleep, consuming vast amounts of coffee —can harm not only your grades, but also your health.
The truth is, you will work better if you give yourself adequate time to turn in high-quality work. And doing so makes it more likely you will earn good grades and stay healthy. Here are five handy methods to beat procrastination this semester:
1. Break down large assignments
It can be overwhelming to confront a large assignment thinking you need to finish the whole thing in one sitting. Conversely, chipping away at it a little at a time is much more manageable.
Take some time to assess each large assignment you receive, jotting down a list of everything you need to do in order to complete it. Next, pull out your calendar and give yourself deadlines for completing each task. You should complete all tasks a few days before the entire assignment is due so that you can check your work and make sure it’s cohesive.
2. Limit distractions
You’re less likely to procrastinate when you’re focused. If you find you’re spending too much time on social media, temporarily disable your account(s) while you’re working on a particularly challenging project. Put your phone away when you’re working on an assignment or studying, and choose an appropriate (and quiet) study spot.
3. Designate study/schoolwork time
Much like you should create a timeline for each large assignment you receive, you should set up a regular study/schoolwork schedule. Evaluate your course load and set aside a reasonable amount of time each week to complete work for each class, and block out this time in your calendar. Designating such time holds you accountable to sit down and get your work done.
4. Find a study buddy
Finding a study buddy is another great way to hold yourself accountable to getting your work done on time. You and your buddy will have a set schedule for meeting, and that will require you to stay on top of your work—or else you’ll hold up your buddy. Studying with a friend can also be a great motivator to study in the first place, especially if you tend to get bored when studying solo.
5. Reward yourself
All work and no play can make it hard for you to feel motivated enough to continue working diligently throughout the semester. Remember to periodically reward yourself for your academic efforts with fun and healthy things, like mind-clearing walks between study sessions and hangout time with friends. You’re less likely to procrastinate if you’re feeling happy, healthy, and motivated!
Erica Cirino is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.
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The summer months usher in warmer weather, seemingly unlimited time for relaxation and rest, and increased opportunities for socialization with friends. The very last thing that you may wish to do is summer homework (including summer reading). Unfortunately, there is no way around it, but it is not as terrible as it may at first seem. Here are five tips that can help you complete your summer homework and reading without a great deal of pain:
1. Allow yourself a brief respite before you begin
This suggestion may seem counterintuitive, but after a full school year, you may need a brief break before you delve into your summer assignments. If so, take one--you have earned it. However, first choose the date when you will begin your homework and reading.
2. Select the right start date
Your start date for summer assignments will depend on how much homework you must complete, and on when your school year begins again. When it comes to summer reading, for instance, you should avoid procrastinating until the last week of the summer. However, you may also wish to avoid starting too soon if you are concerned about forgetting each book's content. In this case, you might begin reading four to five weeks before school starts.
3. Consider completing other projects prior to your summer reading
If you have summer assignments like history papers and math problem sets, consider finishing those tasks before you begin your summer reading. In some instances, these projects may have multiple steps, and they may require a greater investment of your time than an assigned biography or novel.
4. Create a schedule, and adhere to it
How often you read or work on projects will depend on your homework load. A general rule of thumb is to commit five hours per week to summer assignments. This is only one hour per weekday. Compare this single hour to your daily schedule during the school year, and this commitment may suddenly feel much easier. Be sure to create a schedule that works for you, as well as one that you can make a priority. If you fall back on the "When I have time..." mindset, you will likely always find reasons to avoid summer homework and summer reading.
5. Maintain a positive mindset
This is perhaps the most important tip of all. While the physical act of completing homework may not be entertaining, improving your performance is worth the effort. Look for small gains--for example, perhaps your understanding of percentages has increased, or perhaps you are now able to read history passages more quickly and more accurately.
As you focus on summer reading, try to enjoy each assigned book. Read outside with a glass of lemonade or water, read in a park, or even read by the pool. Even if you dislike the book, try to appreciate its writing style or character development. Such strategies can help you finish summer assignments to the best of your ability, rather than simply doing them because you must.
Follow Chuck Cohn on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@chuckcohn