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3 Simple Tips to Help You Fight Procrastination

Updated: Aug 17, 2023

Emma stared at the computer screen. The cursor seemed to mock her racing heartbeat. Blink. Blink. Blink. This paper was due in two hours. She had missed the deadline for the last research paper. She had to pass this one to keep her scholarship. Blink. Blink. Blink. She tried to think, but it was as if a wall had erected itself between her and all that she knew about writing. Blink. Blink. Blink.

Have you ever been in this position? Or one like it? I have.

Being a college student comes with a lot of homework. Sometimes it can overwhelm your brain.Our brains often shut down when we are faced with large amounts of work. This leads to procrastination. We end up worrying about all the homework to do and how difficult it all appears to be. Our brain then blows it way out of proportion and it seems absolutely impossible to complete all of it, and sometimes any of it. So we put it off until we have no choice but to do it or fail. Then we get all stressed out and quickly whip up a so-so paper. And the cycle repeats. How could you avoid this?

As an experienced procrastinator, I struggle to figure out how to stop putting off my homework. Here are a few tips that I found are usually helpful when you are struggling with procrastination.

1. Eat the Frog First

It is gross, but it gets the point across. Basically, put the most daunting tasks at the top of your list and tackle them earlier in the day or week. This is when you usually have the most energy and brain power. After completing these assignments, the rest of the tasks can seem like a piece of cake.

2. Take Small Bites

Having a giant list of assignments to do is what often shuts down your brain. So, instead of looking at all the tasks for a week, make daily lists of smaller, bite sized pieces. For example, say for one class you have to:

○ Read a long chapter

○ Take a quiz

○ Do 10 homework problems

Split up the chapter and the homework so that you now have:

○ Read half of Chapter 1

○ Read the other half of Chapter 1

○ Take Quiz #1

○ Do 5 Homework problems

○ Do 5 Homework problems

This may seem like it will overwhelm your brain more, but it has been proven that crossing things off a list causes dopamine to be released into your bloodstream. This in turn motivates your brain to want to cross even more stuff off the list. When the tasks are smaller, you can cross items off quicker, which releases more dopamine and makes it seem easier to complete the assignments.

3. Take a Cookie!

Everyone likes to get a pat on the back every once in a while. So, give yourself one! When you complete a difficult assignment, or finish the daily homework list, eat a cookie, or watch your favorite show, or just go to the park and relax. This will help elevate your mood and/or give your brain a well deserved break. Another benefit is that when there is the next assignment to do or day to tackle, your brain can associate that with a positive emotion., which can help you face the task with a better outlook. Also, the hope for another small reward after that task is complete can motivate you to work harder.

Warning: Be careful with this tip. You probably should not go to the park every time you complete a small task or you will end up not getting your homework completed. Also, be careful at the end of the week or when homework is due. You may have to do more work between rewards so that you can turn in your assignments on time.

Some of these tips might not work for you, but some of them can be just what your brain needs to get on a roll. For me that one is “Take Small Bites”. Which one do you think would be the best to do for your brain? Pick one and try it out. It just might boost your motivation and help you to combat your procrastination.

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