I Procrastinated All Through High School but Finally Found a Way to Stop in College

Getty / Simon Potter

Sometimes, it’s really hard to get work done, and by sometimes, I mean all the time. When it comes to chores, errands, or homework, it used to be so alluring to me to just put off tasks until the last minute, until I was faced with a feeling of panic when I knew I was really cutting it close. I used to rely so heavily on that pressure of getting something done quickly. It gave me a thrill, so much that I procrastinated every single task until the last minute. Unfortunately, procrastination isn’t really a sustainable way of getting things done, and my terrible habit caused plenty of sleepless nights in college as I crammed to get a week’s worth of studying done in one night.

While I was able to get away with procrastinating homework in high school, I quickly learned that it wasn’t going to fly in college. If I wanted to be successful, I was going to have to consciously work to stop my bad habit. It wasn’t easy, but I came up with a system that works well and keeps me organized.

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  1. Break down your tasks into long- and short-term needs. When I was in college, I’d note upcoming exams, homework assignments, and projects in a to-do list and rank them in terms of high and low priority. Then, I designated little timeframes throughout the week that I would use to focus on one thing – and that’s really a key element. If you try to do 20 things at once, you’re going to get overwhelmed. It’s more important to focus on one thing at a time and slowly but steadily check tasks off of your list than multitasking.
  2. Reward yourself for finishing a task. In addition to getting organized, I began rewarding myself when I would get tasks done. For example, I would allow myself to watch one episode of a show only after I finished a certain assignment or treat myself after finishing an essay by going out to dinner or grabbing drinks with a friend. It’s such a simple system, but it really works. By giving myself something to look forward to, I was much more motivated to get my work done.
  3. Find the schedule that best works for you. Now that I’ve graduated from college, at the end of each day, I go through my various writing assignments that are due over the next few days and prioritize them. I know I’m more productive in the afternoon and evening as opposed to in the morning, so I form a schedule around those times. If you’re more of a morning person, then you’ll probably want to capitalize on even just an hour in the morning to get tasks or chores done.

Ultimately, if there’s one key to avoiding procrastination, it’s staying organized. Slowly but surely, with the right mindset, I was able to unlearn my procrastination habits and get into a healthier, more productive routine of getting my work done. If I can do it, then I am 100 percent certain anyone can, too.

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