You know what it feels like when everything hits you at once, right?
You have three tests to study for. You have a math assignment due tomorrow. And then you’ve got a history report due the day after.
You tell yourself to get down to work.
But with so much to do, you feel overwhelmed.
So you procrastinate. You check Facebook, watch a few YouTube videos, and grab yourself a drink.
But you know that none of this is bringing you closer to getting the work done.
Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Procrastination is a problem that everyone faces, but there are ways around it.
By following the tips in this article, you’ll be able to overcome it.
So read on to discover 30 powerful tips to help you stop procrastinating on your homework and other schoolwork.
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1. Take a quiz to see how much you procrastinate.
The first step to changing your behavior is to become more self-aware.
How often do you procrastinate? What kinds of tasks do you tend to put off? Is procrastination a small or big problem for you?
To answer these questions, I suggest that you take this online quiz designed by Psychology Today.
2. Figure out why you’re procrastinating.
Procrastination is a complex issue that involves multiple factors.
Are you procrastinating because:
- You’re not sure you’ll be able to solve all the homework problems?
- You’re subconsciously rebelling against your teachers or parents?
- You’re not interested in the subject or topic?
- You’re physically or mentally tired?
- You’re waiting for the perfect time to start?
- You don’t know where to start?
Once you’ve identified exactly why you’re procrastinating, you can pick out the tips in this article that will get to the root of the problem.
3. Write down what you’re procrastinating on.
Students tend to procrastinate when they’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
But you might be surprised to discover that simply by writing down the specific tasks you’re putting off, the situation will feel more manageable.
It’s a quick solution, and it makes a real difference.
Give it a try and you’ll be less likely to procrastinate.
4. Put your homework on your desk.
Here’s an even simpler idea.
Many times, the hardest part of getting your homework done is getting started.
It doesn’t require a lot of willpower to take out your homework and put it on your desk.
But once it’s sitting there in front of you, you’ll be much closer to actually getting down to work.
5. Break down the task into smaller steps.
This one trick will make any task seem more manageable.
For example, if you have a history report to write, you could break it down into the following steps:
- Read the history textbook
- Do online research
- Organize the information
- Create an outline
- Write the introduction
- Write the body paragraphs
- Write the conclusion
- Edit and proofread the report
Focus on just one step at a time. This way, the prospect of writing the whole report won’t seem so daunting.
6. Create a detailed timeline with specific deadlines.
As a follow-up to Point #5, you can further combat procrastination by creating a timeline with specific deadlines.
Using the same example above, I’ve added deadlines to each of the steps:
- Jan 30th: Read the history textbook
- Feb 2nd: Do online research
- Feb 3rd: Organize the information
- Feb 5th: Create an outline
- Feb 8th: Write the introduction
- Feb 12th: Write the body paragraphs
- Feb 14th: Write the conclusion
- Feb 16th: Edit and proofread the report
Assigning specific dates creates a sense of urgency, which makes it more likely that you’ll keep to the deadlines.
7. Spend time with people who are focused and hardworking.
Jim Rohn famously said that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
If you hang out with people who are motivated and hardworking, you’ll become more like them.
Likewise, if you hang out with people who continually procrastinate, you’ll become more like them too.
So choose your friends wisely. Find homework buddies who will influence you positively.
That doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun! It just means that you and your friends know when it’s time to get down to work and when it’s time to enjoy yourselves.
8. Tell at least two or three people about the tasks you plan to complete.
When you tell others about the tasks you intend to finish, you’ll be more likely to follow through with your plans.
This is called “accountability,” and it kicks in because you want to be seen as someone who keeps your word.
So if you know about this principle, why not use it to your advantage?
You could even ask a friend to be your accountability buddy. At the beginning of each day, you could text each other what you plan to work on that day.
Then at the end of the day, you could check in with each other to see if things went according to plan.
9. Change your environment.
Maybe it’s your environment that’s making you feel sluggish.
When you’re doing your homework, is your super-comfortable bed just two steps away? Or is your distracting computer within easy reach?
If your environment is part of your procrastination problem, then change it.
Sometimes all you need is a simple change of scenery. Bring your work to the dining room table and get it done there. Or head to a nearby café to complete your report.
10. Talk to people who have overcome their procrastination problem.
If you have friends who consistently win the battle with procrastination, learn from their experience.
What was the turning point for them? What tips and strategies do they use? What keeps them motivated?
Find all this out, and then apply the information to your own situation.
11. Decide on a reward to give yourself after you complete your task.
The reward doesn’t have to be something huge.
For instance, you might decide that after you finish 10 questions of your math homework, you get to watch your favorite TV show.
Or you might decide that after reading one chapter of your history textbook, you get to spend 10 minutes on Facebook.
By giving yourself a reward, you’ll feel more motivated to get through the task at hand.
12. Decide on a consequence you’ll impose on yourself if you don’t meet the deadline.
It’s important that you decide on what the consequence will be before you start working toward your goal.
As an example, you could tell your younger brother that you’ll give him $1 for every deadline you don’t meet (see Point #6).
Or you could decide that you’ll delete one game from your phone for every late homework submission.
Those consequences would probably be painful enough to help you get down to work, right?
13. Visualize success.
Take 30 seconds and imagine how you’ll feel when you finish your work.
What positive emotions will you experience?
Will you feel a sense of satisfaction from getting all your work done? Do you relish the freedom that comes with having some extra time on your hands when you’ve completed your homework?
This simple exercise of visualizing success may be enough to inspire you to start doing your assignment.
14. Visualize the process it will take to achieve that success.
Even more important than visualizing the outcome is visualizing the process it will take to achieve that outcome.
Research shows that focusing on the process is critical to success. If you’re procrastinating on a task, take a few moments to think about what you’ll need to do to complete it.
Visualize the following:
- What resources you’ll need
- Who you can turn to for help
- How long the task will take
- Where you’ll work on the task
- The joy you’ll experience as you make progress
This kind of visualization is like practice for your mind. Once you understand what’s necessary to achieve your goal, you’ll find that it’s much easier to get down to work with real focus.
15. Write down why you want to complete the task.
You’ll be more motivated when you’re clear about why you want to accomplish something.
So take a couple of minutes to write down the reasons. Here are some possible ones:
- Learn useful information
- Master the topic
- Enjoy a sense of accomplishment when you’ve completed the task
- Become a more focused student
- Learn to embrace challenges
- Fulfill your responsibility as a student
- Get a good grade on the assignment
16. Write down the negative feelings you’ll have if you don’t complete the task.
If you don’t complete the assignment, you might feel disappointed or discouraged. You might even feel as if you’ve let your parents or your teacher – or even yourself – down.
It isn’t wise to dwell on these negative emotions for too long. But by imagining how you’ll feel if you don’t finish the task, you’ll realize how important it is that you get to work.
17. Do the hardest task first.
Most students will choose to do the easiest task first, rather than the hardest one. But this approach isn’t effective because it leaves the worst for last.
As Brian Tracy says, “Eat that frog!” By this, he means that you should always get your most difficult task out of the way at the beginning of the day.
If math is your least favorite subject, force yourself to complete your math homework first.
After doing so, you’ll feel a surge of motivation from knowing it’s finished. And you won’t procrastinate on your other homework because it will seem easier in comparison.
18. Set a timer when doing your homework.
Start the timer at the beginning of the session, and work in 30- to 45-minute blocks.
Using a timer creates a sense of urgency, which will help you fight off your urge to procrastinate.
Tell yourself that you need to work hard until the timer goes off, and then you can take a break. (And then be sure to take that break!)
19. Eliminate distractions.
Here are some suggestions on how you can do this:
- Delete the games and social media apps on your phone
- Turn off all notifications on your phone
- Mute your group chats
- Archive your inactive chats
- Turn off your phone, or put it on airplane mode
- Put your phone at least 10 feet away from you
- Turn off the Internet access on your computer
- Use an app like Freedom or Anti-Social to restrict your Internet usage
- Put any other distractions (like food, magazines and books unrelated to your homework) at the other end of the room
- Unplug the TV
- Use earplugs if your surroundings are noisy
20. At the start of each day, write down the two to three Most Important Tasks (MITs) you want to accomplish.
This will enable you to prioritize your tasks. As Josh Kaufman explains, a Most Important Task (MIT) is a critical task that will help you to get significant results down the road.
Not all tasks are equally important. That’s why it’s vital that you identify your MITs, so that you can complete those as early in the day as possible.
What do you most need to get done today? That’s an MIT.
Get to work on it, then feel the satisfaction that comes from knowing it’s out of the way.
21. Focus on progress instead of perfection.
Some students procrastinate because they’re waiting for the perfect time to start work.
Others do so because they want to get their homework done perfectly. But they know this isn’t really possible – so they put off even getting started.
What’s the solution?
To focus on progress instead of perfection.
There’s never a perfect time for anything. Nor will you ever be able to complete your homework perfectly. But you can do your best, and that’s enough.
So concentrate on learning and improving, and you’ll gradually overcome your habit of procrastination.
22. Get organized.
Procrastination is common among students who are disorganized.
When you can’t remember which assignment is due when or which tests you have coming up, you’ll naturally feel confused and stressed. This in turn leads to procrastination.
That’s why it’s crucial that you get organized. Here are some tips for doing this:
- Don’t rely on your memory; write everything down
- Keep a to-do list
- Use a student planner
- Use a calendar and take note of important dates like exams, project due dates, school holidays, birthdays, and family events
- At the end of each day, plan for the following day
- Use one binder or folder for each subject or course
- Do weekly filing of your loose papers, notes, and old homework
- Throw away all the papers and notes you no longer need
23. Stop saying “I have to” and start saying “I choose to.”
When you say things like “I have to write my essay” or “I have to finish my science assignment,” you’ll probably feel annoyed. You might be tempted to complain about your teachers or your school.
What’s the alternative?
To use the phrase “I choose to.”
The truth is, you don’t “have” to do anything.
You can choose not to write your essay; you’ll just run the risk of failing the class.
You can choose not to do your science assignment; you’ll just need to deal with your angry teacher.
When you say “I choose to do my homework,” you’ll feel empowered. This means you’ll be more motivated to do what you ought to.
24. Clear your desk once a week.
Clutter can be demotivating. It also causes stress, which is often at the root of procrastination.
Hard to believe? Give it a try and see for yourself.
By clearing your desk, you’ll reduce stress and make your workspace more organized.
So set a recurring appointment to organize your workspace once a week for just 10 minutes. You’ll receive huge benefits in the long run!
25. If a task takes two minutes or less to complete, do it now.
This is a principle from David Allen’s bestselling book, Getting Things Done.
You may notice that you tend to procrastinate when many tasks pile up. The way to prevent this from happening is to take care of the small but important tasks as soon as you have time.
Here are some examples of small two-minute tasks that you should do once you have a chance:
- Replying to your project group member’s email
- Picking up anything on the floor that doesn’t belong there
- Asking your parents to sign a consent form
- Filing a graded assignment
- Making a quick phone call
- Writing a checklist
- Sending a text to schedule a meeting
- Making an online purchase that doesn’t require further research
26. Finish one task before starting on the next.
You aren’t being productive when you switch between working on your literature essay, social studies report, and physics problem set – while also intermittently checking your phone.
Research shows that multitasking is less effective than doing one thing at a time. Multitasking may even damage your brain!
When it comes to overcoming procrastination, it’s better to stick with one task all the way through before starting on the next one.
You’ll get a sense of accomplishment when you finish the first assignment, which will give you a boost of inspiration as you move on to the next one.
27. Build your focus gradually.
You can’t win the battle against procrastination overnight; it takes time. This means that you need to build your focus progressively.
If you can only focus for 10 minutes at once, that’s fine. Start with three sessions of 10 minutes a day. After a week, increase it to three sessions of 15 minutes a day, and so on.
As the weeks go by, you’ll become far more focused than when you first started. And you’ll soon see how great that makes you feel.
28. Before you start work, write down three things you’re thankful for.
Gratitude improves your psychological health and increases your mental strength.
These factors are linked to motivation. So the more grateful you are, the less likely you are to be a serial procrastinator.
Before you get down to work for the day, write down three things you’re thankful for. These could be simple things like good health, fine weather, or a loving family.
You could even do this in a “gratitude journal,” which you can then look back on whenever you need a shot of fresh appreciation for the good things in your life.
Either way, this short exercise will get you in the right mindset to be productive.
29. Get enough sleep.
For most people, this means getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. And teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night to function optimally.
What does sleep have to do with procrastination?
More than you might realize.
It’s almost impossible to feel motivated when you’re tired. And when you’re low on energy, your willpower is depleted too.
That’s why you give in to the temptation of Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube videos more easily when you’re sleep-deprived.
Here are ways to get more sleep, and sleep better too:
- Create a bedtime routine
- Go to sleep at around the same time every night
- Set a daily alarm as a reminder to go to bed
- Exercise regularly (but not within a few hours of bedtime)
- Make your bedroom as dark as possible
- Remove or switch off all electronic devices before bedtime
- Avoid caffeine at least six hours before bedtime
- Use an eye mask and earplugs
30. Schedule appointments with yourself to complete your homework.
These appointments are specific blocks of time reserved for working on a report, assignment, or project. Scheduling appointments is effective because it makes the task more “official,” so you’re more likely to keep the appointment.
For example, you could schedule appointments such as:
- Jan 25th, 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm: Math assignment
- Jan 27th, 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Online research for social studies project
- Jan 28th, 4:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Write introduction for English essay
Procrastination is a daily problem we all face.
But given that you’ve read all the way to here, I know you’re committed to overcoming this problem.
And now that you’re armed with these tips, you have all the tools you need to become more disciplined and focused.
By the way, please don’t feel as if you need to implement all the tips at once, because that would be too overwhelming.
Instead, I recommend that you focus on just a couple of tips a week, and make gradual progress. No rush!
Over time, you’ll realize that your habit of procrastination has been replaced by the habit of getting things done.
Now’s the time to get started on that process of transformation. 🙂
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