Strategies to Avoid Procrastinating on College Term Papers

The term “College Term Paper” isn’t used as commonly at major universities these days, but the concept of writing important and weighted papers still exists—and it’s still not much fun.  For many, those lengthy papers are the bane of their existence and it’s easy to try to put them off for as long as possible.  But procrastination can have some pretty devastating consequences, including lower grades, loss of sleep, and extreme stress.  To avoid the needless hassle, you’ve got to buckle down and put an end to procrastination.  Here are some simple steps to get you going in the right direction:

Plan ahead.  Your planning begins the moment you receive your class syllabus.  Bring it home and put your due dates on a calendar or agenda planner.  If you’re a high-tech student, put the dates in your outlook calendar or in your phone so that you can get reminders as the due date approaches. 

Block off time.  Just adding the due dates isn’t enough; you’ll want to factor in time to work on the paper.  Consider the requirements of the paper and budget your time accordingly.  You’ll want to leave yourself time for brainstorming and outlining.  Dedicate time for research, if it will be required.  Most papers are made stronger with at least a little bit of research. And many papers will require you to use print and online sources to strengthen your arguments and draft your papers.  Don’t forget to leave time to draft your paper—an hour per page is a nice time frame, but factor in more or less once you gauge how quickly you type.  Keep in mind, your first draft shouldn’t be the only one. Set aside time for proofreading, peer editing, and revising.

Cut out distractions.  There are many distractions in college, including the ever present friends and roommates, school events, parties, television or music, or even the wonderful time-wasters of Facebook and other online culprits.  You may need to silence your phone and head to a location where you’ll work best. If that’s your own room, great.  If you need the peace and quiet of a library, there’s likely one on campus or nearby.  Only you can identify what your biggest distractions are, but you’ll want to do your best to accommodate for them, so that you can be most successful.

Make yourself comfortable.  There’s nothing like an excuse to break the flow of your assignment.  So, before you begin, make sure you’ve eaten.  Eat something that will sustain you, but won’t make you uncomfortably full.  Use the restroom if you need to, and set up the environment so that you’ll be most comfortable while working.  This may mean adjusting the temperature or slipping into a worn hoodie.  Perhaps you need to turn a light on and add mood music or you need to turn on a fan for breeze and white noise. 

Having supplies handy is also important.  For term papers, this may include access to a dictionary and thesaurus.  You’ll need any resources you’ve gathered and any additional academic materials you might require.  But supplies can also include things like a drink for if you get thirsty or some Tylenol if late nights at the computer often produce headaches.

Finally, dig deep and hit that “Get to it” button.  If you’ve planned ahead and blocked off time to begin your project and you’ve created an environment conducive to writing your papers, the last factor in beating procrastination is to meet it head on with your own motivation.  Motivation is a personal thing, and finding it may take you a trial run or two to get it right.  Common motivational factors include high scores, career goals, parental praise, or personal satisfaction.  Regardless of your specific source of motivation, this is what you’ll need to give you the last little nudge into writing that darned term paper and fighting the urge to quit when you’re ahead.