Homework Procrastination: Why You Procrastinate on Homework and How to Stop
Homework procrastination involves unnecessarily postponing working on homework assignments. For example, if a student delays starting a homework assignment until right before its deadline for no good reason, even though it would have been better for them to start earlier, that student is engaging in homework procrastination.
Homework procrastination can take various forms, from wasting hours trying to bring yourself to start writing an essay, to putting off an important project until the end of the semester. This is a problem not only because it can harm your performance at school, and therefore cause you to receive lower grades , but also because it can cause you to suffer from various other issues , such as frustration, anxiety, and stress .
If you often procrastinate when it comes to doing homework, know that you’re not alone. Procrastination is a common problem among students ; in terms of statistics, studies show that approximately 80%–95% of college students engage in procrastination to some degree, approximately 75% consider themselves to be procrastinators, and approximately 50% say that they procrastinate in a consistent and problematic manner.
Fortunately, however, there are some things that you can do to solve this problem, as you will see in the following article. Specifically, you will first see an explanation about why students procrastinate on their homework, so you can understand your own behavior better. Then, you will see what you can do in order to stop procrastinating on your homework, so you can start getting them done on time.
Why you procrastinate on homework
You procrastinate on homework because issues such as exhaustion and anxiety outweigh your self-control and motivation. These issues include personal factors, like fear and perfectionism, and situational factors, like distractions and unclear instructions.
Specifically, when you need to get homework done, you rely primarily on your self-control in order to get yourself to do it. Furthermore, your self-control is sometimes supported by your motivation, which helps you complete your homework on time.
However, in some cases, you suffer from issues that interfere with or oppose your self-control and motivation, such as exhaustion and anxiety . When these issues are stronger than your self-control and motivation, you end up procrastinating, until you reach a point where the balance between them shifts in your favor, or until it’s too late.
This explains why you might end up procrastinating on your homework even when you have the necessary motivation and you truly wish that you could just get started. This also explains why you might end up procrastinating on your homework until right before deadlines , when the increased motivation, often in the form of stressful pressure, finally pushes you to get to work.
Accordingly, common reasons for procrastinating on homework include the following :
- Abstract goals , in terms of being vague about how and when you intend to do the homework.
- Feeling overwhelmed , often while being unsure of how to complete the homework.
- Perfectionism , in the form of refusing to create work that has any flaws.
- Fear of failure , often because of concerns over how such failure might reflect on you.
- Anxiety , often in light of potential negative feedback.
- Task aversion , especially in cases where you find the homework boring or unpleasant.
- Lack of motivation , often as a result of feeling disconnected from your future self or having rewards that are far in the future.
- Physical or mental exhaustion , often due to a combination of reasons, such as a high academic workload and associated stress .
- Resentment , generally toward the homework, toward its source, or toward something related, such as a parent pushing you to do well in a subject that you’re not interested in.
- Sensation seeking , generally in the form of enjoying working on things right before the deadline, when there’s intense time pressure.
- Problematic work environment , generally as a result of having many distractions or temptations around.
- Lack of sufficient communication from instructors, for example when it comes to not having clear directions and due dates for a certain class project.
In addition, other issues can also make you more likely to procrastinate on your homework. For example:
- Problematic behaviors like self-handicapping , which involves procrastinating so that if you fail you can blame your failure on procrastination rather than your abilities, and self-sabotaging , which involves procrastinating as a result of a tendency to sabotage your progress.
- Personality traits like distractibility and impulsivity .
- Underlying issues like lack of sleep , ADHD , and depression .
Finally, note that some of these issues can lead to problematic procrastination cycles . For example, this can happen if you’re anxious about your homework, so you procrastinate on it, which makes you even more anxious about your homework due to the added negative emotions that you now associate with it (e.g., guilt and shame), which in turn makes you more likely to keep procrastinating on your homework in the future.
Understanding why you procrastinate on your homework can help you learn how to overcome your procrastination. However, while understanding why you procrastinate can be helpful, in many cases you can reduce your procrastination even without figuring this out. As such, if you find that you’re struggling with this step, don’t worry, and don’t get stuck; simply move on to the next step, which involves trying out various anti-procrastination techniques, until you find the ones that work best for you.
How to stop procrastinating on homework
To stop procrastinating on your homework right now , you should identify the smallest possible thing you can do to make progress on it, and then modify your environment to make it as likely as possible that you will do it.
For example, if you need to write a paper for a university course, the smallest possible step that you can take toward finishing it might be opening the relevant document on your computer, and writing just a single opening line, even if it’s poorly phrased initially. Once you realize that this is all you need to do, you can start modifying your work environment to help yourself achieve that, for example by going to a room with no distractions, leaving your phone outside, and turning on airplane mode on your laptop to disable your access to online distractions .
There are many other anti-procrastination techniques that can help you stop procrastinating on your homework. You don’t need to use all of these techniques, since some won’t be relevant in your case, and since you will generally need only a few of them in order to make significant progress toward overcoming your procrastination. As such, try skimming through this list, and finding the techniques that you think will work best for you.
Improve your planning:
- Set concrete goals for yourself. For example, instead of a vague goal, such as “finish my psychology paper over the weekend”, set a concrete goal, such as “start writing an outline for the psychology paper on Thursday at 5 pm in the library, right after I finish the last class for the week”).
- Break your homework into small and manageable steps. For example, if you need to write a research paper, you can start with steps such as “(1) brainstorm three potential topics, (2) figure out which topic I like best, and (3) find five relevant sources”. If the project that you’re dealing with is large and will therefore require a large number of steps, don’t worry about outlining the whole thing from the start; simply identify the first few steps that you need to take, and add new ones as you go along, to avoid feeling overwhelmed or getting stuck.
- Set a series of milestones and deadlines for yourself. This will help you be accountable and plan ahead, and can also motivate you and give you a rewarding feeling of continuous progress.
- Identify your productivity cycles. Different people are more productive at different times, based on factors such as whether it’s morning, noon, or evening. To reduce procrastination, you should take your personal productivity patterns into account, and schedule your homework for times when you’re most likely to be able to actually work on it.
Improve your environment:
- Change your environment to make it easier for you to focus. For example, if you know that you work best when there are no distracting noises, go somewhere quiet, or put on some noise-blocking headphones.
- Change your environment to make it easier for yourself to get started. For example, if you know that you will need to write an essay tomorrow after you wake up, then leave the document open on your computer before you go to bed.
- Change your environment to make it harder for yourself to procrastinate. For example, if you tend to procrastinate by browsing apps on your phone , leave your phone outside the room where you plan to work.
Change your approach:
- Start with a tiny step. For example, if you need to write an essay, help yourself get started by committing to only write a single sentence at first. This can help you push yourself to get started on homework, and often, once you do so, you’ll find it easy to keep going.
- Start with the best or worst part first. Some people find that starting with the most enjoyable or easiest part of an assignment helps them get going, while others find that getting the worst part out of the way first helps them avoid procrastinating over time. Use either approach if you feel that it works for you.
- Add a time delay before you procrastinate. If you can’t avoid procrastinating entirely, try committing to having a time delay before you indulge your impulse to do so. For example, this can involve counting to 10 before you’re allowed to open a new tab on the social media website that you usually use to procrastinate.
- Use the Pomodoro technique. This involves alternating between scheduled periods of work and rest. For example, you can work on your homework for 25-minute long stretches, with 5-minute breaks in between, and a longer 30-minute break after every 4 work sets that you complete.
Increase your motivation:
- Make doing the homework feel more rewarding. For example, you can gamify your work, by marking down streaks of days on which you’ve managed to make sufficient progress on your assignments, and potentially also give yourself some reward once you reach a sufficiently long streak.
- Make doing the homework feel more enjoyable. For example, you can do your homework in a pleasant location, while listening to energizing music.
- Visualize your future self. For example, you can visualize yourself being able to relax after you finish working, visualize yourself being rewarded for getting a good grade in a course, or visualize yourself having to handle the issues associated with not finishing your homework on time.
- Focus on your goals instead of your assignments. Instead of focusing on the fact that you have an aversion to your homework, for whatever reason, try focusing on your end goals for completing the homework, such as getting a good grade in an important class so you can have a better application for grad school.
Change your mindset:
- Give yourself permission to make mistakes, and accept the fact that your work won’t be perfect, especially at first. This can be helpful, for example, when it comes to assignments that involve writing, where you can give yourself permission to write a bad first draft, and then edit it afterward.
- Address your fears. If you’re procrastinating because you’re afraid of something, try to identify your fears and resolve them. For example, if you’re afraid that your writing won’t be good enough, you can say to yourself that your goal is to just start by getting something written down, and that you can always improve it later.
- Develop self-compassion. Self-compassion can help reduce your procrastination, as well as various issues that are associated with it, such as stress. It consists of three components that you should develop: self-kindness , which involves being nice to yourself, common humanity , which involves recognizing that everyone experiences challenges, and mindfulness , which involves accepting your emotions in a non-judgmental manner.
- Develop self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is the belief in your ability to carry out the actions that you need to achieve your goals, and it can help you reduce your procrastination. To develop self-efficacy, try to identify the various strategies that you can use to finish your homework, and think about your ability to execute those strategies successfully.
When deciding which approach to use in order to overcome your procrastination , keep in mind that anti-procrastination techniques are especially effective when they’re tailored to the specific causes of your procrastination. For example, if you procrastinate because you set abstract goals for yourself, you should focus on setting concrete goals instead. Similarly, if you procrastinate because of available distractions, you should remove those distractions from your study environment, or go work somewhere else instead.
In addition, note that if you suffer from an underlying issue that leads to procrastination, such as lack of sleep , depression , or ADHD , you will likely need to resolve that issue, using professional help if necessary, if you want to successfully overcome your procrastination.
Finally, keep in mind that most people need more than one technique in order to overcome their procrastination , and that different techniques work better for different people in different circumstances. Accordingly, don’t expect a single technique to solve all your problems, and don’t feel that if some technique works well for others then it will necessarily also work well for you. Instead, try out the various techniques that are available to you, until you figure out which ones work best for you, in your particular situation.
School Life Balance , Tips for Online Students
How To Stop Procrastinating? Helpful Tips for College Students!
Your to-do list is piling up, but you’d rather do anything than start crossing items off your list. From procrastinating studying to procrastinating submitting that assignment, most college students wish they know how to stop procrastinating.
Did you know that there are actual reasons why you’re likely procrastinating? So, if you can overcome these barriers, it may get easier to know how to not procrastinate. We’ll share them so that you can maximize your time management skills and be your best self as a college student.
Why Do Students Procrastinate?
At any point in your student lift, you may find yourself taking longer to get things done than necessary. That will lead you to want to know how to not procrastinate on homework, studying, assignments, and chores.
Let’s first break down the common reasons why college students procrastinate in the first place. Some or all of these reasons may resonate with your own experience.
If you have no clearly defined goals as to what you wish to accomplish, it could be harder to understand why you have to do certain things.
Fear of failure
An all too common occurrence is that those who procrastinate actually are just afraid to fail. So, they’d rather not start to avoid this potentially displeasing sentiment.
If there’s a lot going on in your school life and/or personal life, you may feel unsure how or where to even start.
You could feel worried or anxious about the potential outcomes of whatever you have to get done, be it a homework assignment or test results.
Often in line with the fear of failure comes the idea of perfectionism. When you have the goal of everything being perfect, then you may never want to start something to avoid any flaws or mistakes (which are inevitable).
Lack of motivation
It could be possible you feel a lack of motivation because goals are too far out in the future or are unclearly defined
Perhaps, the most important thing to do is to ask yourself why you are procrastinating in the first place. This could prove to be a useful exercise because you may have to tackle the more deeply rooted issue and the shackles of procrastination will be released.
For example, you could fear that you don’t know how to do something, and to get started, you simply need to know a little more information or ask for help to understand a concept. Once you do that, you could find yourself easily finishing the required assignment.
How to Stop Procrastinating in College
Now that we’ve covered some of the reasons why students procrastinate in the first place, let’s take a look at some best practices to learn how to stop procrastinating.
To avoid the sense of overwhelm of having too much to do or not knowing where to start, organization proves to be crucial. It’s a great idea to use tools that help you stay organized, whether they are calendars or scheduling apps on your computer or the trusted old-school method of writing things down. Consider writing down upcoming assignments and deadlines, estimating how long the task will take you to perform, and counting backward from the due date to give yourself adequate time to get it done.
Of course, it still comes down to you having the motivation to start rather than procrastinate, but it’s easier to do when you have a clear idea of what you need to get done and by when.
Set Deadlines and Reasonable Goals
If you’re a person who procrastinates because your goals seem unattainable, then consider resetting your goals. While you can’t choose when assignments are due, you can choose when you want to have it ready by. In the same vein, you can’t choose when test dates are, but you can choose when to start studying. You can break down these items into smaller, achievable segments so that you can maintain momentum and feel accomplished. For example, if you have a 10-page research paper due, consider setting a goal to finish two pages per day so you can avoid having to write it fast.
Sometimes, the only way to want to get things done is to have no other alternative. You can position yourself for this scenario by removing distractions. Put your phone in another room. Turn off the TV. Tell your friends that you’re busy. Then, you can free up your own time to get your to-do list crossed off.
Getting things done doesn’t have to feel tiring or undesirable. Remember to relieve yourself of your efforts and give yourself breaks. This can also help to increase your motivation to get things done because you can look forward to the upcoming break. And, you can make your break as fun or as relaxing as you see fit. Some examples of break ideas you can try after you accomplish items on your list include: walking, cooking, calling a friend, scrolling through social media, playing with your dog, taking a nap, etc.
In the same way that breaks can serve as rewards and help to boost your motivation, so can actual rewards! Depending on what you enjoy, you can set rewards both big and small accordingly. Say you enjoy food and trying new eateries. Tell yourself that if you ace your next big exam, you’ll treat yourself to a dining experience at the restaurant you’ve always wanted to try. Or, if you like fashion, then buy yourself something new when you finish your semester with a good GPA.
Ask for Help
If you’re struggling to hold yourself accountable, ask your peers or friends for help. You can help each other meet deadlines if you are unable to maintain your own self-control. Having people around you who will support you in reaching your goals and aspirations can help to manage your motivation levels as you are answerable to people besides yourself.
The Bottom Line
While there is no single answer as to how to stop procrastinating for college students, there are different behaviors and habits that you can try to overcome this common challenge.
So, if you’re a constant procrastinator or you find yourself stuck these days more than before, try to figure out why. Then, practice some of the above tips to overcome any mental hurdles.
Equipping Students to Be Successful and Happy
30 Tips to Stop Procrastinating and Find Motivation to Do Homework
Updated on January 24, 2023 By Daniel Wong 41 Comments
To stop procrastinating on homework, you need to find motivation to do the homework in the first place.
But first, you have to overcome feeling too overwhelmed to even start.
You know what it feels like when everything hits you at once, right?
You have three tests to study for and a math assignment due tomorrow.
And 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 your social media feed, watch a few videos, and get yourself a drink. But you know that none of this is bringing you closer to getting the work done.
Does this sound familiar?
Don’t worry – you are 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 procrastination and consistently find the motivation to do the homework .
So read on to discover 30 powerful tips to help you stop procrastinating on your homework.
Enter your email below to download a PDF summary of this article. The PDF contains all the tips found here, plus 3 exclusive bonus tips that you’ll only find in the PDF.
How to stop procrastinating and motivate yourself to do your homework.
Procrastination when it comes to homework isn’t just an issue of laziness or a lack of motivation .
The following tips will help you to first address the root cause of your procrastination and then implement strategies to keep your motivation levels high.
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.
Stop thinking of excuses for not doing your homework , and figure out what’s keeping you from getting started.
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, you won’t need to motivate yourself to write the whole report at one go.
This is an important technique to use if you want to study smart and get more done .
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 30 th : Read the history textbook
- Feb 2 nd : Do online research
- Feb 3 rd : Organize the information
- Feb 5 th : Create an outline
- Feb 8 th : Write the introduction
- Feb 12 th : Write the body paragraphs
- Feb 14 th : Write the conclusion
- Feb 16 th : 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.
Motivation to do homework naturally increases when you surround yourself with the right people.
So choose your friends wisely. Find homework buddies who will influence you positively to become a straight-A student who leads a balanced life.
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.
“Planned” rewards are a great way to motivate yourself to do your homework.
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. This is key to doing well in school .
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.
To motivate yourself to do your homework, think about all the ways in which it’s a meaningful task.
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.
It’s more difficult to find motivation to do homework in less enjoyable subjects.
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.
(On a separate note, check out these tips on how to get better at math if you’re struggling.)
18. Set a timer when doing your homework.
I recommend that you use a stopwatch for every homework session. (If you prefer, you could also use this online stopwatch or the Tomato Timer .)
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.
When you know you only have to work for a short session, it will be easier to find motivation to complete your homework.
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 all 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 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.
Perfectionism can destroy your motivation to do homework and keep you from starting important assignments.
Some students procrastinate because they’re waiting for the perfect time to start.
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 turn this into a habit that you implement whenever you study .
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. You’ll experience school- and test-related stress .
This, in turn, will lead 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 study and 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. The more you practice gratitude, the easier it will be to find motivation to do your homework. As such, it’s less likely that you’ll 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 25 th , 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm: Math assignment
- Jan 27 th , 3:00 pm – 4:00 pm: Online research for social studies project
- Jan 28 th , 4:30 pm – 5:00 pm: Write introduction for English essay
Transform homework procrastination into homework motivation
Procrastination is a 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. 🙂
Like this article? Please share it with your friends.
Images: Student and books , Homework , Group of students , Consequences , Why , Writing a list , Organized desk , Gratitude
January 19, 2016 at 11:53 am
Ur tips are rlly helpful. Thnkyou ! 🙂
January 19, 2016 at 1:43 pm
You’re welcome 🙂
August 29, 2018 at 11:21 am
Thanks very much
February 19, 2019 at 1:38 pm
The funny thing is while I was reading the first few steps of this article I was procrastinating on my homework….
November 12, 2019 at 12:44 pm
same here! but now I actually want to get my stuff done… huh
December 4, 2022 at 11:35 pm
June 6, 2020 at 6:04 am
I love your articles
January 21, 2016 at 7:07 pm
Thanks soo much. It’s almost like you could read my mind- when I felt so overwhelmed with the workload heap I had created for myself by procrastination, I know feel very motivated to tackle it out completely and replace that bad habit with the wonderful tips mentioned here! 🙂
January 21, 2016 at 8:04 pm
I’m glad to help 🙂
January 25, 2016 at 3:09 pm
You have shared great tips here. I especially like the point “Write down why you want to complete the task” because it is helpful to make us more motivated when we are clear about our goals
January 25, 2016 at 4:51 pm
Glad that you found the tips useful, John!
January 29, 2016 at 1:22 am
Thank you very much for your wonderful tips!!! ☺☺☺
January 29, 2016 at 10:41 am
It’s my joy to help, Kabir 🙂
February 3, 2016 at 12:57 pm
Always love your articles. Keep them up 🙂
February 3, 2016 at 1:21 pm
Thanks, Matthew 🙂
February 4, 2016 at 1:40 pm
There are quite a lot of things that you need to do in order to come out with flying colors while studying in a university away from your homeland. Procrastinating on homework is one of the major mistakes committed by students and these tips will help you to avoid them all and make yourself more efficient during your student life.
February 4, 2016 at 1:58 pm
Completely agreed, Leong Siew.
October 5, 2018 at 12:52 am
Wow! thank you very much, I love it .
November 2, 2018 at 10:45 am
You are helping me a lot.. thank you very much….😊
November 6, 2018 at 5:19 pm
I’m procrastinating by reading this
November 29, 2018 at 10:21 am
January 8, 2021 at 3:38 am
March 3, 2019 at 9:12 am
Daniel, your amazing information and advice, has been very useful! Please keep up your excellent work!
April 12, 2019 at 11:12 am
We should stop procrastinating.
September 28, 2019 at 5:19 pm
Thank you so much for the tips:) i’ve been procrastinating since i started high schools and my grades were really bad “F” but the tips have made me a straight A student again.
January 23, 2020 at 7:43 pm
Thanks for the tips, Daniel! They’re really useful! 😁
April 10, 2020 at 2:15 pm
I have always stood first in my class. But procrastination has always been a very bad habit of mine which is why I lost marks for late submission .As an excuse for finding motivation for studying I would spend hours on the phone and I would eventually procrastinate. So I tried your tips and tricks today and they really worked.i am so glad and thankful for your help. 🇮🇳Love from India🇮🇳
April 15, 2020 at 11:16 am
Well I’m gonna give this a shot it looks and sounds very helpful thank you guys I really needed this
April 16, 2020 at 9:48 pm
Daniel, your amazing information and advice, has been very useful! keep up your excellent work! May you give more useful content to us.
May 6, 2020 at 5:03 pm
nice article thanks for your sharing.
May 20, 2020 at 4:49 am
Thank you so much this helped me so much but I was wondering about like what if you just like being lazy and stuff and don’t feel like doing anything and you don’t want to tell anyone because you might annoy them and you just don’t want to add your problems and put another burden on theirs
July 12, 2020 at 1:55 am
I’ve read many short procrastination tip articles and always thought they were stupid or overlooking the actual problem. ‘do this and this’ or that and that, and I sit there thinking I CAN’T. This article had some nice original tips that I actually followed and really did make me feel a bit better. Cheers, diving into what will probably be a 3 hour case study.
August 22, 2020 at 10:14 pm
Nicely explain each tips and those are practical thanks for sharing. Dr.Achyut More
November 11, 2020 at 12:34 pm
Thanks a lot! It was very helpful!
November 15, 2020 at 9:11 am
I keep catching myself procrastinating today. I started reading this yesterday, but then I realized I was procrastinating, so I stopped to finish it today. Thank you for all the great tips.
November 30, 2020 at 5:15 pm
Woow this is so great. Thanks so much Daniel
December 3, 2020 at 3:13 am
These tips were very helpful!
December 18, 2020 at 11:54 am
Procrastination is a major problem of mine, and this, this is very helpful. It is very motivational, now I think I can complete my work.
December 28, 2020 at 2:44 pm
Daniel Wong: When you’re doing your homework, is your super-comfortable bed just two steps away? Me: Nope, my super-comfortable bed is one step away. (But I seriously can’t study anywhere else. If I go to the dining table, my mum would be right in front of me talking loudly on the phone with colleagues and other rooms is an absolute no. My mum doesn’t allow me to go outside. Please give me some suggestions. )
September 19, 2022 at 12:14 pm
I would try and find some noise cancelling headphones to play some classical music or get some earbuds to ignore you mum lol
March 1, 2021 at 5:46 pm
Thank you very much. I highly appreciate it.
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Procrastinating My Homework
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Soon, I discovered a method to avoid the potential of feeling insubstantial, if only for a few more hours or days. Thus, allow me to introduce you to an old friend, procrastination. My way of thinking soon became, “If I’m not going to get an A, then why even put the effort in?” and consequently, innumerable assignments were put off until five in the morning where it would be due in two hours or it would never reach my teacher’s hands at all. I’m sure most teachers believed the cause to be laziness or a lack of ambition, however I strongly believe that if they’d known the constant stress, self-doubt, and exhaustion that I
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Procrastination is a disease that I have almost cured myself of. I tend to put off assignments until the last minute, a false allusion of being able to working under pressure. While I usually perform well on procrastinated assignments, an essay graded with a B could have easily been an A, if I had put in more time working on the assignment. This semester, I know that I will continue working on assignments earlier than usual in order to achieve better grades on my assignments and improve my GPA.
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Throughout my academic career I have always been a procrastinator. I am the stereotypical procrastinator in which I know that I have weeks before an assignment is due, however, I will wait until just days before the due- date to start and finish the assignment. I have always felt that I needed to “feel the pressure” before I started an assignment in order to keep my full attention. I have been aware of this behavior for several years, and I have taken small steps to decrease procrastination, but I still do it to this day. I have also always felt that this procrastination behavior has limited my full potential, specifically in my academics. However, like most self- defeating behaviors, identifying the problem is the first step and I am taking a more
Transitioning To College
Procrastination is one of my biggest downfalls however I can fix this by practicing better time management skills. Throughout the college process I can foresee this as being an ongoing challenge because i'll know that I have enough time to get an assignment done but depending on the assignment i'll wait two days or a day before to complete it,and it's not on purpose it's simply because i'm not managing my time
Describe The Three Binder Exercises That Had The Greatest Impact On You As A College Student
The “Stop Procrastinating” assignment benefited me the most of the three because it gave me insight on procrastination. I knew that my habit of procrastinating on every homework assignment was problematic, but I had never done anything to solve it. Moreover, I had never considered the reasons for my choice to put off assignments until the last minute. By doing the “Stop Procrastinating” exercise, I learned that I am indecisive and easily distracted whenever I have an important task to do. I often procrastinate by using my phone or computer because of those reasons. To fix this, I learned that I could use a planner, break larger tasks into smaller ones, and by putting away distractions. Although I don’t always follow these aforementioned strategies, I will continue to improve by trying them on a regular basis.
Procrastinating A Diagnostic Essay
Procrastination and putting things off can have many consequences in your life. I know this because I am always waiting until the last minute to do anything whether it is getting ready for work or getting my homework done. Although you can still get your work done on time, procrastinating can drastically impact a student’s life by leading to decreased grades, an increase in stress, and a lack of responsibility ultimately reducing the student’s chances for success.
While attending high school or college, you find there are other things in your life to do. When there are other things for you to attend, it can often make you not do what is most important. If you do not complete the important things first, then you are procrastinating. It is often easy to procrastinate. You may think you will find the time to get it done before the due date because you just do not feel like doing the project at the time. Tough it out and push through it because if you do not complete it, then you are more than likely going to run out of time and be doing the project at the last-minute. If you do not procrastinate then it allows you time to work on the project and it could allow you to make a better grade. Do not let procrastination, take over your life.
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- 2 Works Cited
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Learn the benefits of what not procrastinating can do for you. If you stop procrastinating, you can have a manageable schedule that will work with your life style. Use time management to your advantage by planning out each assignment so that you may not have to worry about it in the later future. Most importantly if you can help yourself by stopping the long term habit of procrastination your grades could improve, your life will become less stress full and your friends and family will thank
The Negative Effect of Procrastination on College Students
- 6 Works Cited
More and more students are piling on mountains of stresses and strains on their bodies but more so on their minds by choosing to procrastinate. According to Dr. Ferrari associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, he suggests that the “stress or anxiety we feel over long periods of time can lead to more serious situations such as depression and other forms of mental illnesses... that will make our lives much harder to cope with.” The true ramifications of delaying or stalling assignments is putting one's mental health on the line. Students may gain anxiety, and or depression problems because of the exceeding amount of stress and pressure they put themselves under when students defer tasks. Another effect of procrastination is building up unnecessary amounts of stress.
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There are all always two types of students in this small world, first, the students that come ready to class with a three to five-page essay all proofread, nice and stapled with three transition sentences highlighted turned. Second, there are those students who come to class with not even half of a paper written out, unstapled, not a single transitional sentence highlighted and may have plenty of errors due to not proofreading the essay. Those second group of students are procrastinators, which are people who delay an assignment to do the task right before the deadline. Now, why do most of all 99.99% of school boys and girls procrastinate? Well, most people might have problems with lack of focus, or the person might be lazy and decide to
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How to Do Your Homework on Time if You're a Procrastinator
Last Updated: February 23, 2023 References Approved
This article was co-authored by Katie Styzek . Katie Styzek is a Professional School Counselor for Chicago Public Schools. Katie earned a BS in Elementary Education with a Concentration in Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She served as a middle school mathematics, science, and social studies teacher for three years prior to becoming a counselor. She holds a Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling from DePaul University and an MA in Educational Leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. Katie holds an Illinois School Counselor Endorsement License (Type 73 Service Personnel), an Illinois Principal License (formerly Type 75), and an Illinois Elementary Education Teaching License (Type 03, K – 9). She is also Nationally Board Certified in School Counseling from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, several readers have written to tell us that this article was helpful to them, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 545,495 times.
Procrastinating on your homework assignments can make school more stressful and can hurt your grade if you're always finishing homework at the last minute. Once you learn a few techniques to beat procrastination can make homework much easier for you! By keeping organized, setting specific goals, and asking for help, you can transform yourself into an academic star who still has time to watch TV and catch up with friends on Facebook.
Establishing a Routine
- Set an alarm on your phone to remind you when to get back to work!
- Very few people can actually work effectively with music playing. If you like to listen to music while you work but find you aren't getting anything done, try going without it for an hour to see if your concentration improves.
Asking for Help
- This doesn't work for everybody. If you find another person distracting, quit working with them.
- Good health can improve your study habits and can help you retain what you learn. Exercise, eat well, get plenty of sleep, and skip the alcohol and caffeine. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Ask your parents or a friend to keep your smartphone so you don't get distracted. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Try to set an alarm or a task reminder in your phone. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Even the best students know that they can't work all of the time. Allow some relaxation time for yourself, particularly on the weekends. Good study habits make you work smarter, not harder. ⧼thumbs_response⧽ Helpful 117 Not Helpful 9
You Might Also Like
- ↑ Katie Styzek. Professional School Counselor. Expert Interview. 26 March 2021.
- ↑ https://www.grammarly.com/blog/how-to-stop-procrastinating/
- ↑ https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/focused.html
- ↑ https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/homework.html
- ↑ https://childmind.org/article/strategies-to-make-homework-go-more-smoothly/
- ↑ https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/take-charge-of-distractions/
- ↑ Ted Coopersmith, MBA. Academic Tutor. Expert Interview. 10 July 2020.
- ↑ https://kidshealth.org/en/parents/school-help-teens.html
- ↑ https://blogs.iu.edu/dbauman/2018/12/18/homework-writing-tips-for-college-students/
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Teach your teen how to stop procrastinating homework (without nagging).
by Winston Sieck updated September 18, 2021
You send him off to school. Drive him to soccer practice. Then there’s dinner. And, you know, a little TV.
Says he’s getting homework done. But there doesn’t seem to be that much. Gets it all done in school . Hmm. Trust me . Hmm.
You want to trust him. You don’t have time to review each assignment. And that’d go over like a lead balloon, anyway. Nagging is out. Major hassle. Tiny return.
But when the grades come back, you know you’ve got to do something. Trust me didn’t work.
You might think that getting things done has to do with grit or simple hard-nosed discipline. That he’ll wake up and do it, or he won’t. But this is far from the truth.
He’s got to learn how to stop procrastinating homework.
You can’t manage his time for him anymore. But he still needs support.
Supporting him to get his work done simply requires that you teach him a few study tips and time management techniques. Teach him how to stop procrastinating homework, rather than trying to manage his time for him.
It’s much easier because you coach him on tools and processes, without getting into the nitty-gritty of his business. This is a central idea of our study skills course .
The procrastination cycle affects us all (or “It’s not just you, kid”)
You know what I mean by the procrastination cycle, right?
Say your son has a tough homework assignment. About geometry theorems. It seemed pretty complicated in class. He doesn’t get it right away, so he decides to put it off.
Later that evening comes. He puts it off again. Until tomorrow and then to the next day. Now he’s feeling like he really doesn’t know what’s going on in class. More assignments begin to slip, and class is less fun every day.
He’s walking around with an uneasy feeling that he’s not going to do very well in this course. And feeling like that, it becomes easy to procrastinate his homework even more.
Procrastination is a beast that feeds on itself.
And you’ve met that beast yourself, haven’t you?
It shouldn’t be too hard to feel some empathy. Procrastination haunts us all.
Can you think of a time when you didn’t feel very motivated to study (or work)? A time when you were sorely tempted to put off the task until later? My guess is that you don’t have to think that far back.
What was it about the task that gave you an itch to procrastinate? Did it seem too difficult, boring, or just tedious?
How did it turn out? Did you break the cycle, or did things get worse and worse?
You’ve got a story about procrastination. Think it through. Get it straight in your head.
Now, tell your teen all about it.
Don’t worry if it turned out badly. It’s fine to show a little weakness. We’re all humans here.
My kids love and remember stories of my failures best.
The point is to empathize with your teen’s struggle. Show him that you really do know what it’s like.
Get momentum and spiral up
We all face the procrastination beast at one time or another. Yet, you have the benefit of experience. To get where you are now, you’ve figured out a few ways to overcome it.
You may not have them on the tip of your tongue, but they’re there. You’ve internalized your tricks. They’ve become part of your habit.
It’s time to bring them back to the forefront of your consciousness so you can pass them on.
Need some help?
Here are four ways to overcome procrastination. Share these tips with your teen.
- Nip procrastination in the bud . Recognize this cycle early on, and imagine where it will lead you. By acting early, even if just to do a little, you can avoid the downward spiral.
- Set small goals to focus on , rather than on a big task that seems like too much. Break the assignment or study activity into little pieces. Congratulate yourself as you finish a small task. Making a little progress will help increase your motivation to do some more.
- Make a deal with yourself . Promise yourself a reward for finishing the task, or a reasonable chunk of it. Tell yourself that you’ll watch some TV, listen to a song you like, or call a friend after you are done.
- Concentrate on the most recent tasks when too much has piled up. Figure out what tomorrow’s lecture is going to be about, or what homework assignment is due next, and put your energy into preparing for those. This way, you can enjoy a small win of a more positive class experience, because you understand what’s being said a bit better and have turned in a more complete assignment on time.
Which of these have you used? Maybe at work, instead of school. Do they jar your memory for other tricks you use?
The harsh truth about how to stop procrastinating homework
We all have trouble with procrastination. At least now and then.
It’s the same for your teen. And he’s had less practice handling it. He hasn’t picked up all the tricks you’ve come across for working through the sticky spots.
How can you help him get his tedious, daunting tasks done?
Not directly, at least. He’s got to learn to get himself unstuck.
But you can talk with him about procrastination. Empathize with his struggles.
You’ve know you’ve been there.
Think about what works for you.
Share your tips for getting things done (even when you don’t feel like it).
Image Credit: dichohecho
Build your study skills with thinker academy.
About Winston Sieck
Dr. Winston Sieck is a cognitive psychologist working to advance the development of thinking skills. He is founder and president of Global Cognition, and director of Thinker Academy .
March 15, 2017 at 7:31 pm
Hi, I am a mom of a 13 yrs old, my son is a great kid, at everything he does. Somehow, regadless of his procrastination he always comes out of it either withan A or winning his science proyect. He is really good at writing (he does not get it from me,☹️) he reads 10-12 grade books, plays the guitar and violin, He loves music… He was just accepted at advance orchestra and he swims 3 hrs a everyday. But, I dont know if it is me or what, but it makes me lose it and I get so angry at him when I find out he procrastinate his work or projects. I feel he is ignoring his own capacities not just to have an “A” or get second or third place on his science projects, it angries me he could have done it better, not just to pass the test or finish the project, but to really leaves us all with something he can really blow our minds…. am I been to harsh on him? how can I help him to see that? or should I be the one who changes?
May 13, 2017 at 4:48 am
Read what you have written …the answer is within. Ask yourself is it procrastination or is he time starved ? To be good at one thing requires time, to be good at a multitude of things takes even more time.
April 4, 2020 at 3:41 am
Hi my son has just turned 13, he has started his homeschooling this year and it’s his first experience in homeschooling. He procrastinates all his chores a lot, be it be assignments or daily chores. At the end he gets very frustrated because of his unfinished tasks. Please can I request you to help me so I could help my child overcome his problem.
April 11, 2020 at 3:57 pm
This is all about my brother! His attitude to homework is hard to describe. And we have a constant struggle over it. And also misunderstandings and resentments. As a person who loves to learn, I can’t figure out how he can avoid homework all the time. I mean, I’m not a study fan, but I like the process of learning. I mean, he’s not interested in anything but computer games. I’ll try to find an approach to it using your advice. Because he needs to learn to be independent and of course to develop his cognitive skills.
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"I'll Start My Homework as Soon as this Show is Over:" How to Stop Procrastinating
By dr. roni cohen-sandler.
Between now and the end of the school year is usually a crunch time, when girls feel pressured to do nightly homework while also finishing projects, writing papers, and studying for final exams. But many are honest enough to admit that they make this stress even worse by procrastinating. Instead of getting down to work when they get home from school, or right after dinner, they find a trillion “reasons” (read: excuses ) to put off opening the books: “I’ve got to clean my room before I can do anything else,” or “I’ll just watch one show to relax first.” Most often, it’s “I’ve got to check my Facebook updates for a minute….” Of course, what usually happens is: “But then I got sidetracked by looking at everyone’s pictures. Before I knew it, an hour had passed…”
It’s human nature to procrastinate. We do it for various reasons: when we’re tired, we don’t feel like doing something, or we’re distracted by other thoughts and feelings. Sometimes certain tasks make us anxious or totally bored.
So we get involved in something else—or opt out by taking a nap. Either way, we keep from feeling bored, annoyed, frustrated, or afraid. Procrastination is just a fancy word for avoidance!
The problem, however, is that it’s not a particularly good coping strategy. As soon as we face up to what we have to do, those same feelings return—with a vengeance. Now we have even less time to get things done, putting additional pressure on us. Even while engrossed in playing a computer game or shopping online, you’re probably aware of that huge To Do list hanging over your head. That only worsens the stress. Plus, procrastinating often makes us feel bad about ourselves.
The good news is that you can learn to stop procrastinating—or at least to do it less. First, figure out the cause(s). Then you can find solutions that work.
Use this mental checklist to understand what’s making you put off ‘til later what you can finish now:
Sleepy ? After a long day of school, you’re probably tired (especially if you didn’t sleep enough last night). But before you take a quick power nap that turns into a 3-hour sleep-fest that makes you groggy (and keeps you wide awake tonight), try these strategies:
- Listen to upbeat music . That’ll perk you right up.
- Switch your routine . New and different experiences cause a rush of brain chemicals that make you more alert. If you usually sprawl across your bed when you work, sit cross-legged on the floor.
- Get active . You’ll be more awake if you’re moving than if you’re sitting still. A 10-minute walk will boost your energy for up to 2 hours. (BONUS: Taking your dog might earn you brownie points.)
Hungry ? Our brains need fuel, especially when we’re stressed. Avoid raiding the junk food, which will probably make you sleepier. Instead, boost your brainpower with a high protein snack such as a handful of nuts, some cheese, hummus, or yogurt.
Mentally exhausted ? Is your brain on overload?
- Make a list . Write down all tasks and due dates in order of priority. Enjoy crossing them off.
- Pace yourself . Alternate easy and hard tasks—or ones that take you the most and the least amount of time.
- Take breaks . Play a quick game on your iPhone to have fun and activate brain cells. WARNING: Make that ONE game—or set your phone alarm to go off in 5 to 10 minutes.
Too Stressed ?
- Breathe deeply and exhale fully . This will get rid of excess carbon dioxide so you get more oxygen to your brain and feel more mentally alert. Do whatever works . Spend 10 minutes doing whatever relaxes you.
- Work out . Exercising in the early afternoon or up to two hours before bed lowers the stress hormone and releases feel-good endorphins.
- Do whatever works . Spend 10 minutes doing whatever relaxes you.
To avoid procrastination, the best strategy is using self-discipline. That’s when we make ourselves do things even when we really don’t want to. It’s not easy, but well worth the effort. Research shows the most successful, confident people aren’t necessarily the smartest, but they’re persistent and self-disciplined.
Roni Cohen-Sandler is the author of Stressed Out Girls: Helping Them Thrive in the Age of Pressure. To sign up for Dr. Cohen-Sandler’s free e-newsletter, Parenting 21st Century Teens: Issues and Solutions, visit www.RoniCohenSandler.com .
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[Need Advice] Starting homework late, procrastinating, not getting anything done
Recently I've been having massssssssive problems with starting my homework at 11 or 12 at night. I come home at about 5:30, but this isn't a set time so I have trouble making plans for when I get home. Then, with distraction upon distraction, it ends up being late at night. I honestly have no idea what happens in those 5 hours between me coming home and starting my homework. It's like it just dissapears.
Also, I have problems with procrastination. Even when it's this late at night, I still put off all my homework, even thought I'm staying up. THis past week, I;ve gone to sleep at 1am every day and gotten none of my homework done.
Like fuckin today. I have a math assignment, a minor essay, and a self-portrait due tomorrow. It's 1 am, and I have none of those things started on. I'm breaking down just thinking about it. WHat is happening to me, why can't I get anything done, why do I feel like such a useless person? I know I CAN do it, but why haven't I done it?
sigh If you have any advice for me, on starting my assignments earlier, on not procrastinating on tough assignments, on what to do now, I would love it if you left a comment.
I used to be exactly like what you describe. When I went home I would just have no desire to accomplish anything and it was really hard to separate myself from distractions to accomplish what I wanted to. I found going to the library helped (especially a busy library) a lot because it removed me from distractions and made me feel like I had to do work cause I was taking up a spot someone could use. I feel like I'm learning a lot more than I was before and getting a lot more done. (Mind you I've always been a straight A student) Doing this actually helped me with the laziness and time management.
My schedule usually goes like this: Wake up, go to my classes, come home for dinner, leave for the library and stay there until its time for bed. On The weekends I get more free time because the library closes earlier. I found that separating myself from the computer and cell phone while I was working also helped a ton.
Also, I found when I filled up more of my free time with extra curriculars (i.e. a job, volunteering doing something I liked, and starting a club) the more I felt like I absolutely had to do work. Pretty much before I had so much free time that I felt everything could be put off until later because I have the time. I hope this all helps!
Thanks man. I love going to the library to work, unfortunately I can't do so because I can't drive yet.
I feel like extracurriculars do help with this, yeah. If you give yourself less time to do homework, you tend to do more in less time.
I will definetly close my computer unless needed from now on.
Thanks for responding, I appreciate.
I'm going to guess that if you had someone looking over your shoulder, there would be no problem getting started on your work. Study groups get a lot of their effect from this - sure you get insight from other people's ideas, but the real benefit is their presence keeping you focused.
I have a procrastination problem too. Do you want to pair up and check in on each other? If you're in the EST time zone then we would only have 1-3 hours of overlap, but you know how much can be accomplished in an hour of focused study. With any luck, the momentum you get from that first hour will carry you through at least a couple more.
Agreed. Study groups don't work, however, when they're both 1) close friends and 2) not really committed. To get good study groups you have to choose people who are more committed than you.
It's not mindless distractions which are causing you to not do work. You are simply making the decision to not do the work in favor of something else. Realize that this is a real decision, though probably one you have made so many times that you don't really think about it anymore.
It's pretty easy to decide not to do something you don't really want to do until you have no choice. If you don't know why you don't want to do the work, find out. For me I've found that I tend to be pretty perfectionist, and not having enough time is a pretty good excuse for not having up to some crazy high par work. Figure out why you don't want to do the work. It may be that there is not reason beyond it not being as fun as something else. You can't really change your decision making priorities of you don't know why you made decisions the way you do.
There are two ways to change the decision and habit. Either set strict times when you will work, and perhaps more importantly when you absolutely will not work. This both means that you know when you should be working, and when you have time to do other things. This helps defeat starting resistance. Make your work schedule a real habit, and sink into it.
The other way is simple. Realize that you are making the wrong choice, and will set yourself up for future failure and suffering. Realize that this isn't happening for no reason (as I said above) and that it is a real decision. Make that decision the other way. This way requires less scheduling, but means really taking control of your wants, getting used to doing unfun and painful things (which most people suck monster dick at) and get used to this kind of self-improving discomfort.
There isn't any reason to not combine these methods, in part or whole. I'm going to cut that part out because I'm on mobile though.
A thing I did a while ago, but stopped for some reason: when I was procrastinating, and I knew it subconciously, I would ask myself "What should I be doing right now?" and then I would do
Thinking long-term seems to be the most important thing here. It isn't what'll give you pleasure now, it's what'll give you satisfaction tomorrow that matters more.
Set an alarm for 1900. That hour and a half is plenty of time to refresh yourself with food and drink, it's enough time for a half hour nap on top of that. Once you hear the alarm think of it as an ultimatum, all or nothing in that moment, but think carefully about how pathetic you'll leave yourself feeling if you reject an ultimatum you gave yourself.
Then at 10 or 11 you've a couple of hours to chill out. Don't be doing it all backwards.
Yeah, that's a good plan. I'll set one for 1830. Then I'll get to work (close Reddit, close FB, close gmail) in 20 minute blocks, with 5 minute breaks. I'll continue until done.
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Recently I've been having massssssssive problems with starting my homework at 11 or 12 at night. I come home at about 5:30, but this isn't a set time…