Productivity and procrastination can be a real problem with many students. I know I have struggled with procrastination on my assignments and tasks way too many times throughout college. And honestly, I still struggle with it to this day in certain areas of my life. Therefore, with the school season recently beginning, I decided to combine all of my tips and strategies into one post on how to stop procrastinating in college! In hopes of helping you, inspiring you, and improving your overall time management and productivity levels! So, let’s dive in!
How To Stop Procrastinating In College
1. Try out the “Eisenhower Box Strategy”
You don’t have to be a total history junkie like me to be familiar with (or have heard of), Dwight D. Eisenhower. The American Army general and statesmen who served as the 34th President of the United States. But why am I bringing him up? Eisenhower was known as one of the most productive people of his time. And, he had an incredible ability to sustain his levels of productivity for not only weeks or months, but decades over time.
It’s no wonder why Eisenhower’s methods of productivity, leadership, time management, and task management have been studied numerous times. When it comes to productivity, he is most famous for his strategy known as the Eisenhower Box Stragedy. It is an incredibly simple, yet effective, tool for beating procrastination and increasing your levels of productivity in school, the workplace, and your everyday life!
In fact, this strategy is actually pretty simple when it comes to taking action and organizing your tasks/assignments. According to Eisenhower’s method, to be more productive and utalize time management, you need to separate your actions based on four possibilities (aka boxes).
1. Most important and urgent tasks. (Tasks you will finish first or immediately.)
2. Important tasks, but not urgent. (Tasks that can be scheduled for later.)
3. Urgent tasks, but not important. (Tasks you will delegate to someone else.)
4. Tasks that aren’t important or urgent. (Tasks that you can eliminate or disregard.)
I love using Eisenhower’s Box Strategy because it can be used for a broad variety of plans that will keep you productive and free from procrastination. Not to mention, this tool allows me to stay so organized and focused when going about my monthly, weekly and day by day schedule. So, if you’re wondering what the Eisenhower Box Stragedy may look like visually, here is a great example!
I love the idea of drawing out your own Eisenhower Box on a whiteboard with tape and markers to use throughout the semester or as an everyday tool for planning and prioritizing your tasks!
2. Avoid multitasking
You may be surprised to hear that multitasking actually makes you less productive. In fact, according to a recent study, shifting between your tasks can cost you up to 40% of productive time. While it may feel like you’re getting more done, you actually aren’t. You’re getting the task done and over within a hurried and insufficient way.
Instead of bouncing around from task to task as quickly as possible, try paying attention to each task one by one. It will allow you to work more efficiently and concentrate on the task at hand a lot easier!
3. Just begin
I know that this one is much easier said than done! However, you know that daunting feeling when you are starting a new task or project and you’re sitting at your computer not knowing where to even begin? I feel you! As you’re sitting there thinking about the task and dreading the work, your brain actually begins to interpret it as a much harder task than it really is.
For example, say you need to write an essay for a class. The most helpful thing that I have found, personally, is to just start writing. Open up your laptop and write out the first couple sentences of your essay’s introduction paragraph. Or, sit down and create a basic outline of your essay! It doesn’t have to be perfect, but having those few sentences written down is better than staring at a black white paper or screen. And remember, you can always go back fix it! It doesn’t have to be your final product!
For me, I notice that as long as I have something written down, I have something to work with and something to move forward with. Also, once you begin working, or even writing down a couple of sentences, your motivation to continue and complete the task will begin to increase.
4. Minimize distractions
This one is so important in order to work efficiently and to be 100% focused on what you’re doing. I know it can be tough, but whenever you’re working/studying, always make it a habit to rid yourself of all potential disruptions or distractions before you sit down and begin working! That way, you won’t run the risk of becoming side-tracked halfway through your task. If texting or social media (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, etc.) is a big distraction for you, then try turning your phone off or keeping it out of reach while you’re working.
With that, I know external sources can be an issue for causing a distraction as well. If you have other roommates, siblings, pets, etc. that frequently cause you to lose focus, try listening to instrumental music or white noise to drown out their noise or chatter. If that doesn’t help, you can change your setting altogether and find a quiet coffee shop or library to work at. That way, you can clear your mind and work in a distraction-free space!
5. Set a timer
Who else works better under pressure or under stressful situations where you’re literally waiting until the last possible minute to finish your task? ✋ If that sounds like you, then I am right there with you, my friend! However, waiting until the last minute, where you feel stressed and pressured, is obviously not the best thing. Both for your mental health and well-being. Not to mention, waiting until the last minute can be a very dangerous game to play. You may think you’ll have enough time to finish it, but then, something else more important or urgent could come up. Don’t do that to yourself. Especially in college!
Instead, I like to set a timer. That way I am technically working under “timed-pressure,” but I’m not waiting until the last day or a couple of hours before my assignments are due. However, I know for many people, myself included, keeping your phone by you as your timer can lead to temptation and distraction from your work. So, I have been using my little Timecube Timer when I am time-blocking my daily task.
Related Post: “How To Stop Procrastinating Once And For All”
For those who may have never heard of time-blocking, it is a time-management tool that helps you better allocate your time throughout the day. Basically, you give yourself a set amount of time (i.e: 30 minutes) to accomplish one particular task. Along with that, in order to hold myself accountable without any possible distractions, I turn to my Timecube. It’s a timer you can set for 5, 15, 30 or 60 minutes to complete your designated task.
I don’t really know what it is about this specific timer, but every single time it goes off, I actually follow it. It’s allowed me to focus on one task at a time, and it prevents me from spending too much of my time on one task alone!
6. Set a strict deadline
In the past, I was notorious for telling myself, “I’ll get to that assignment next week,” or “I’ll organize my desk and papers someday soon.” Does anyone else find these statements familiar? Nevertheless, that “someday” never comes when we think or hope it will. We either tend to forget about it, or we push it off more and more. With that, it so vital to start setting specific dates in your planner for when you want your goals or tasks to be accomplished. This is especially crucial in college!
A little tip that I have found to work wonders for me is to actually set my deadline a day or two before it’s actually due. That way, if something unexpected comes up my assignment will either be already finished or I’ll have extra time to complete it! Over the years, this is the tip I have incorporated into each of my college courses. Whether my classes were online or on campus, I would read over the syllabus and write down the due dates for my assignments two days in advance in each of my planners! Note that was plural because yes, I’m crazy and I have multiple planners! 🙃
7. Take care of yourself
This one may be a given, but I find it necessary to share as much as possible. In college, pulling all-nighters is far too common among students. In fact, many people, generally students, believe that pulling all-nighters and studying until 3 am equals being productive. But that isn’t the case! Skimping out on sleep can lead to many other concerns and health issues. The less sleep you get each night, the less your brain will be able to retain information or focus on daily activities and tasks. Being well-rested will allow you to work more efficiently and cope with the added stress from assignments, essays, projects, and all-around college student lifestyle. Check out this post on how to improve your sleep in order to de-stress and refuel your energy each day!
What are some ways you beat procrastination and boost your productivity?
Leave all your helpful tips and strategies in the comments to help our fellow college students!