Preventing Procrastination Like a Pro

Consider this: every unexpected obstacle you’ve faced while tackling an assignment at the last minute has been entirely avoidable. I’ve seen my fair share of broken printers mere minutes before class while trying to prepare an essay I’d had weeks to work on. I’ve seen the internet crash the night before a research project or an online assessment was due. If you’ve ever procrastinated, then you’ve lived through these tough times too. Then why is it so hard to stop?

It makes perfect sense in the moment. The first rush of decision-making adrenaline that comes with throwing caution to the wind makes anything seem possible. Common sense deteriorates into “you can study for that test right before class tomorrow” or “you can get up at 5 A.M. to finish that essay”–and you believe it, too. Maybe you’re busy and don’t want to set aside the time for work, or maybe procrastination still plagues your daily life even when you have a wide open schedule. Sometimes, the piles on piles of work just seem so daunting that you’d do anything (or in this case, nothing) to avoid even looking at them. The first step to solving the problem is facing the truth: procrastination is your worst academic enemy.

For such a common problem, it remains one of the most difficult to admit. When you’re caught by a professor making easily fixable mistakes on an assignment or test, saying “I just didn’t start working on time” will never be enough to explain what you really mean: “I could have done so much better.” My battle with procrastination is ongoing, but I’m learning to grow and change by implementing a few small changes every time I get an assignment.

Quick Fixes
The internet is not always your friend. When used correctly, it can do wonders for the way you learn and study, but when used incorrectly it has an astounding ability to halt your productivity in its tracks. As long as you have the foresight to see your procrastination coming, preventing it should be easy with apps like StayFocusd for your computer that block distracting websites of your choice for designated amounts of time. If you’re looking to support a larger cause, the app Forest  partners with an organization that plants real trees when its users don’t get distracted by other smartphone apps.

There are certainly less graceful approaches to cutting down wasted time online; sometimes I like to hurl my phone across the room so I wouldn’t be able to answer messages if I tried. Other times, I go out of my way to tell my friends not to contact me until I’m done with a given assignment. If I’m not feeling motivated enough to do either, I turn my notifications off and call it a day.

Leave your room to work, and bring only the essentials with you, whatever they are. You can’t get distracted by a phone or laptop you don’t have!

Big Picture
At the end of every day, write down your long term goals on a piece of paper, even if they don’t change. If you don’t know what they are just yet, even better! Write down everything that you have the potential to accomplish. Turn those far off goals into daily reminders of what you can do if you put in the work. I’m definitely the most motivated when I understand that my time is valuable. When I believe that I can do anything I put my mind to, I’m a lot more willing to put my mind to my work.

By Madeleine Fleming

Madeleine Fleming is a Campus Clipper publishing intern and a rising sophomore at NYU. A lover of reading, writing, and learning in every way possible, Madeleine is excited to be writing about college study habits for the Campus Clipper. For over 20 years, the Campus Clipper has been offering awesome student discounts in NYC, from the East Side to Greenwich Village. Along with inspiration, the company offers students a special coupon booklet and the Official Student Guide, which encourage them to discover new places in the city and save money on food, clothing and services.

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