A Master Procrastinator’s Guide on How to Not Procrastinate

The ugly side of procrastination and what you can do about it

Carley Walker, Staff Writer

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As I write this, I am on my second cup of coffee — two shots of caffeine, mind you— which is the only thing keeping me awake right now. I got maybe around four hours of sleep, maybe five hours, I can’t keep track of it anymore. I think I stayed up until maybe 2 am doing homework? Or maybe I was up till midnight, fell asleep, then woke up at 4 am? The last thing I really remember from last night is passing out on the couch with some textbook in my lap.

Why do I stay up so late to do homework? Do I have an essay due the next day in every single class? Do I have ten tests to study for? Am I a slow worker? Or is my homework so complex that it takes me hours on end to complete it?

No, actually, I’ve just been trying to finish my math homework while simultaneously playing Cup Pong with my friends and scrolling through TikTok watching VSCO girls who think they aren’t VSCO girls and then make fun of VSCO girls (yes, it’s a thing).

Or maybe I was just scrolling through Youtube videos watching one of David Dobrik’s new vlogs or old people reacting to “How To Basic.”

Regardless of what I’m actually doing, it’s clearly not my homework — at least not until it’s around 9 pm and I realize “Oh yeah, I need to finish that.”

It’s not like I don’t get my work done. I just get so distracted by everything around me in the process of doing my work. I would rather play Word Hunt than find abstract words in an article for AP Lang. Not saying I don’t like AP Lang, I’m just super addicted to Word Hunt (my high score is 15500).

I wasn’t always a procrastinator. At one point, I had an amazing work ethic. I still do, but only after 10 pm, after all my friends have gone to sleep after telling me to start my homework over and over again for two hours.

For some reason, this year I have been procrastinating more than I should be. I mean, it’s my junior year, I should be focused on my academics and I should not be scrolling through my Snapchat watching the “PhoneSwap” story.

So I decided to try some strategies to try to avoid procrastinating until 9 pm every night.

Here are the top ones I have for all of you that are procrastinating just as much as me:

Get organized and create a schedule 

The best thing you can do before starting your assignments is to make sure all of your work is organized. Organize your assignments by folders, whether it be physical folders or Google Drive. Make your working space is as clean and organized as possible. If you are working in a messy space, it may be harder to focus and get work done.

Finish the harder assignments first 

Do your harder and longer assignments first. Many students, including myself, try to save the hardest assignments until the very end. These hard assignments may include starting that essay for your English class, or beginning that extremely thick math packet you have to finish for class at the end of the week. But the sooner you start these assignments, the sooner it will be over! For me, when I get through the hardest and longest classwork, I always feel better immediately after finishing it and become motivated to continue working on homework for my other classes.

Put all your distractions aside 

Turn your phone off or put it in a different room. One of the biggest distractions we all have is our phone. We always tend to pick up our phones absentmindedly while we are working, and we lose ourselves in an endless scroll on Instagram, or Tiktok, or Snapchat, or Buzzfeed, or even Reddit. When you eliminate this distraction, the more time you will have to complete your homework, and the less likely you are to procrastinate.

Study or work in a new place (preferably a quiet one)

A lot of us tend to work in a distracting or loud environment. If you find yourself not being able to focus or are distracted by someone else, try finding a new study space. Even doing homework in your bedroom is not an ideal place to study, because your body associates your bed with sleep, so if you try doing homework in it you may become less focused and tired. Libraries or even a quiet coffee shop are great places to study. Try to go there to do your homework one time and see how much more productive you can be. If you end up going with some friends, make the group small. The bigger your study group is, the more likely you are to end up procrastinating.

Create a study playlist 

Make a mellow playlist dedicated solely for studying. For me, I have a short playlist filled with acoustic songs and mellow beats. A great playlist that many people turn to is the 24/7 Lofi music playlists or 24/7 piano music playlists on Youtube. Try to stick to calming and mellow beats instead of loud, pump-up songs. The calmer the beat, the more focused you will be in your studies.

It’s all mental, remember to motivate yourself to get through your work

Whenever you catch yourself procrastinating or not being productive, try to remind yourself that you have work to do and the sooner you start it, the sooner you will be done with it. Remind yourself how good it will feel to be done with your work rather than staying up late because you’ve been procrastinating for hours on end.

Have incentives

Give yourself goals and rewards for when you finish all your work. It could be “if I finish this essay within the next two hours, then I can eat this snack or take a five-minute break from studying.” Or it could be “if I finish my homework now, then I will be able to go to bed earlier and get more sleep.” Honestly, these goals could be anything, as long as they help you get through your homework.

Habits of procrastination will not go away overnight. Sometimes you may slip up and end up scrolling through your phone instead of working on your homework. But, try to keep these tips in mind the next time you sit down to do homework. Try to limit your distractions and try to have some goals. Hopefully, when you try these tips and get into the habit of them, you won’t end up having to drink two cups of coffee at 4 o’clock in the afternoon to try and stay awake for the rest of the day.