How to Stop Procrastinating as a College Student

Student focusing on homework while drinking tea

“There’s always tomorrow” seems to be the theme of procrastination. Many college students struggle with time management, especially when it comes to tasks like studying for a test or completing a challenging project. If you struggle with this, you may wonder how to stop procrastinating. It can become easy to put off tasks, expecting to get them done in the future. However, you may find you do not have enough time to give your best effort or to complete the tasks at all.

Benefits of Being Productive

There are many benefits to being proactive and avoiding procrastination. Procrastination in college can potentially harm your chances of receiving a good grade. Delaying studying for a test gives you less time to learn and retain the information. You may not have sufficient time to complete projects or assignments to your—or your professor’s—standards. If you do not procrastinate, you have a better chance of receiving a higher grade.

Being productive instead of procrastinating can also reduce stress. Many people procrastinate to avoid doing something that they do not feel like doing and the negative emotions related to that task. However, procrastination can cause anxiety and stress.*

Productivity can enhance your quality of life, giving you more time for other interests. If you procrastinate, you may miss out on various opportunities. For example, you may not have time to revise your work or seek suggestions from peers and professors if you wait until the last second to start an assignment. Finishing work earlier may also afford you time to relax. Say your friend wants to go out to eat on a Sunday night; since you worked on your assignments throughout the week, you can join them.

5 Time Management Tips

Time management is essential in the struggle against procrastination for college students. You can improve your productivity and reduce procrastination in several ways.

1. Start Early

Probably the most effective strategy is to start your tasks early. Do not allow yourself to think, “It’s not due yet, so I still have time.” There are many benefits to starting assignments early. You may be able to come back, revise and improve upon your original ideas when you don’t wait until the last minute.

2. Minimize Distractions and Pay Attention to Your Environment

Procrastinating can become very easy when distractions are present around you. If you find yourself constantly wanting to be on your phone when you are trying to accomplish a task, consider putting your phone out of arm’s length or in another room.

If you're surrounded by people and distracted by noise, consider going to the library or finding a study room where you can give your work your full attention. For some students, listening to instrumental music helps increase their focus by eliminating such sounds.

As you work, try not to think about your future to-do list, which can overwhelm and distract you. Focus on the task at hand and what you currently have to get done.

3. Set Goals

Setting attainable goals can be a great way to combat procrastination, enabling you to feel accomplished without feeling overwhelmed by multiple things at once. For example, if you have ten questions to answer, you could decide to take a twenty-minute break after finishing five questions.

Another option is to set an amount of time and work for that long, then reward yourself with a break. Checklists provide the motivation some students need to ensure they do everything efficiently and on time. Some students may create a daily or weekly schedule or calendar to help them stay on top of their goals and what they want to get done.

4. Have People Hold You Accountable

Although maintaining discipline independently in completing your tasks is an important skill, having someone hold you accountable can be very helpful. Ask someone to check in with you if you are struggling to accomplish something. This accountability can motivate you to complete your work.

5. Do It

The most important aspect in fighting procrastination is to do the work. Pushing through mental barriers can be challenging; it is not impossible. Remember your goals, and you can succeed in your academic and personal endeavors.

At Grand Canyon University, students can earn their degree and prepare for a successful future career. If you are interested in becoming a Lope or in our degree programs and campus resources click the Request Info button at the top of the screen. 

*Retrieved from The New York Times, Why You Procrastinate (It Has Nothing to Do With Self-Control) in March 2021

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.