How to Stop Procrastinating: 3 Tips to Help You Beat Procrastination as a College Student

A college student stops procrastinating her deadlines in college by doing her homework.

If you’re in college, chances are, you have a love-hate relationship with procrastination. For you, procrastination may be no more than an act of desperation if you run out of time or forget major deadlines. Or, you may intentionally procrastinate because you feel like you do your best work under pressure and see no issue with getting things done at the last minute.

Wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, odds are, you either regularly procrastinate or have done so in the past. While it can sometimes be helpful, procrastinating will ultimately mess up your sleep schedule, add unnecessary stress and hurt your grades. But how can you overcome this habit and regain control of your time?

Here are three tips to stop procrastinating deadlines in college.

1. Manage your time and plan ahead.

One of the reasons you may regularly find yourself procrastinating is because you either aren’t aware of your deadlines or don’t properly structure your schedule to allow yourself enough time to complete the assignments. Or, maybe you feel like you have so many other things going on that take priority, causing your work to fall to the wayside until the last possible second.

Whatever the reason, it’s crucial that you schedule out your time and prioritize what’s most important. Take some time at the beginning of the semester to look over your course calendars. Mark big project deadlines on your phone calendar or weekly planner. Then, at the start of each week, look ahead at what’s due that week and in the following weeks. From there, organize your responsibilities by priority and schedule enough time for each throughout your week. This will allow you to make the most of your time and start to get ahead of important deadlines, while still having enough time for other responsibilities and things you enjoy.

For more on how to manage your time in school, click here!

2. Set artificial deadlines for yourself. 

You may find that procrastinating helps you feel more motivated by giving you the last minute pressure you need to get things done. The trouble is, procrastinating will usually leave you feeling anxious and overwhelmed as you rush to finish your work before 11:59 p.m. Your work quality will diminish, and you’ll often wind up being sleep-deprived and disengaged the next day.

If you find you need the extra motivation created by the “last-minute rush,” you can recreate the sensation by making artificial deadlines for yourself. For example, if the assignment is really due at 11:59 p.m. on a Wednesday, you can tell yourself it absolutely has to be done Monday before 11:59 p.m. You may not always stick to that deadline, but then if you’re running late and wind up working on it Monday and Tuesday, you’ll still end up submitting the assignment a day ahead of the actual deadline. Creating new habits like this one is a great way to stop procrastinating deadlines in college, and can help you feel more productive and less anxious.

Want to learn more about creating deadlines that work? Check out this blog!

3. Do what works for you.

One student I met who struggled with procrastination found it was easiest for her to study late at night, when there were less distractions and she felt more motivated. She’d leave her dorm around 10:00 p.m. and go sit in her favorite spot in the 24-hour coffee shop. She’d bring some sweet snacks and tea as a reward, and listen to her favorite music or the audio version of her textbooks while she took notes and studied. When she’d finally return to her dorm around 2:00 a.m., she felt productive and accomplished, and didn’t have the assignment hanging over her head the next day.

You may not find studying until the early hours of the morning to be beneficial for you. However, you should try to find time to work on your assignments when you’re most energized and motivated — whether that’s early in the morning, late at night or somewhere in between. Then, do what’s most enjoyable and works for you, whether it’s studying with friends, having your favorite snacks or coffee on hand, or using study tools and techniques that you find engaging. Taking steps to make studying more enjoyable will help you get things done early, be more focused and feel less stressed.

For tips on how to optimize your time studying from home or in your dorm, click here!

Whether you’re a serial procrastinator or just looking to make sure it doesn’t become a regular habit, be sure to give yourself grace. Know that breaking old habits (or starting new ones) takes time and won’t happen overnight — so be sure to be patient with yourself, get lots of rest and be open to trying new things. Happy studying!