Procrastination, the great delayer of many people, is especially tough to control for those in school or college. Today’s society is full of stimuli: fast-paced music, instant communication, and glittering advertisements. All this combined what seems to be an ever-shrinking attention span leads to a recipe that could be headed for trouble. Fortunately, procrastination can be avoided, through personal organization, and methods to help avoid distractions.
Organize all that needs attention
Being able to sort out priorities is a key to avoiding procrastination. To start off, list all the long-term activities on a piece of paper and the date by which they must be completed. On another piece of paper, write out short-term items that must be addressed.
To separate long-term and short-term, consider whether or not it requires immediate attention. For instance, a phone-call to set up a doctor’s appointment for a bad fever should probably done within a week, while an appointment to get the dog spayed and neutered can wait for at least two weeks or so. The appointment would be short-term, while the dog would be long-term in this example. It all depends on the situation. This step is important, but do not focus here alone.
Next, sort the items listed in each category by date. The closest date should be up top, while the farthest should be at the bottom. Daily homework should be at the top of the short-term list, while end-of-term papers should be at the middle-to-bottom of the long-term list. Tests that are within the next week should get high priority on the short-term list, while tests that are later in the semester should be near the bottom, but also able to creep up the list as the date draws closer.
Now that the list is organized, consider buying a notebook or daily planner. Enter the items in the planner when they are due. Next, set up reminders a few days or at a set interval before each due date. This will serve as a visual reminder whenever a new day begins. Also set aside study-time for homework and tests, and consider setting up time to ask the professor for assistance if the material is challenging. Many courses in college build up on previously learned knowledge, so staying on top of the material is imperative for success.
Keep adding new events, and repeat the process above for new activities. This will help establish habit, and will help the various college events stay organized as things get more hectic as the semester draws to a close.
Getting rid of Distractions
Everything is organized, and all the priorities that require immediate attention are set and ready to go. Now it is time to study or to work on any projects that have been assigned. Here too though, procrastination can strike.
Distractions are the easiest way to procrastinate, and among the simplest to get rid of. Turn off the cell phone, television, or any other noise-producing devices, if at home. If some noise actually helps with studying, keep music at a low volume to help with concentration. If a computer is required to complete the assignment, only have the windows open that are needed for the project. Avoid surfing the internet at any cost! Research can be done at the library, where distractions are always kept to a minimum. Any resources that are needed from the internet can be printed off or saved to a document before starting any work.
Any group work that is required may lead to procrastination as well. Consider meeting at the library in the evening, or when all members have time off, to help focus on the studies. Work that has to be finished at another time can be taken home, and immediately worked upon until it is satisfactory and finished.
At times, distractions will simply interfere with studying. A broken down car on the way home, an emergency trip to the hospital, or even an unexpected visit may occur. These are normal to a degree, and should be expected to occur. Allow extra time, whether it is before class or on weekends, to help compensate for lost studying. Lastly, do not get frustrated, life is unpredictable, so take things in stride. A “C” grade on one homework or test will most likely not harm the overall grade. Just keep at it and seek help when needed.
Procrastination is a common problem for many college students. At times it can be an extremely frustrating habit to break. Through organizing oneself and by eliminating distractions, any student can help keep procrastination to a minimum, and stay on the track to success.