How To Stop Procrastinating

Five tips and tricks from a chronic procrastinator

Five tips and tricks from a chronic procrastinator

Sometimes, my heart tells me to get work done but is ruthlessly ignored when I sit down and open TikTok. If I’m not scrolling, I’m making an entire Instagram post about horoscopes and spending hours formatting it on Canva. 

It is a debilitating, incessant need to do anything other than what I’m supposed to be doing. In fact, I’m doing it right now—instead of doing my college applications, which are due in two weeks, I’m writing a column on procrastination, the irony of which is not lost on me. 

Through my long years, I’ve finally concocted a few tricks that make sure I can get the majority of my work done on time. They’re not foolproof, but they’re some of the only methods that work for me, no matter how many self—help websites I read. 

  1. Find a good place to work.

Personally, if I step a foot inside my room, you can rest assured that I won’t do anything I have to. My favorite places to do work are the ones where you’re peer pressured into it: the library at school, a quiet spot away from the chaos of the newsroom, or my dining room, where I can see my Dad in his office. 

Shutting myself in a completely quiet space has never helped me. I get bored easily and will get distracted by whatever is around me. Having somewhere moderately quiet like the library–where more often than not, there’s a few students chatting softly or light music in the background–I can really focus. It makes me feel like I’m a part of a conversation while also being productive. The bonus to the library is that all of my textbooks are usually there, which makes studying extremely helpful; I tend not to cart around my textbooks from home, since they’re usually around 10 pounds each (not an exaggeration.)

Being in an academic setting, like my dining room, is also really helpful for my mental focus. Seeing my dad working helps me to remember to stay on task, however, the library is more helpful in that aspect. After all, I want to look like I’m doing something in the library: what if someone from the yearbook takes a candid shot of me studying?

  1. Try not to work while hungry.

This one I hear a lot, and it’s definitely true. When I’m hungry, I’m constantly distracted and scrolling through videos of people making food or texting my friends to see if they have any snacks. Unless you absolutely can’t eat, you should always try to have a granola bar on hand, at the very least. 

When I was a junior I had a locker where I would store my snacks (even though I wasn’t supposed to) and I could grab whatever I wanted at will. It was super helpful when I was in a bad mood for no reason (was hungry) or when I was easily distracted (was hungry). However, make sure to keep this stash a SECRET – my stash was depleted tenfold as soon as I revealed the location of the locker to my friends. No matter how much you love them, keep your emergency food a secret – give them snacks if they ask, but never tell them where you got them from. 

  1. Take notes that you enjoy looking back at

One of the biggest struggles I had when studying for my AP tests was forcing myself to look back through my notes. They were all one big chunk of text, some of which I had no idea how to think about. 

I’m a visual learner, so now I like to take notes in drawings as well as writing – especially for complex subjects like psychology, which has a lot of terms, drawing bad comics can both be memorable and fun. 

If you don’t like to draw, think about what you DO like to read: maybe you like to listen to podcasts, so record yourself synthesizing a unit with fun sound effects. Or maybe you’re an aesthetic note—taker and your notes in class are always too rushed to make pretty – rewrite them as nicely as you want to! 

Finding what you consider to be engaging is a super helpful tool for any subject, no matter how boring. When I was rushing, I would slap a few stickers on my notes and write around them, trying to incorporate puns out of whatever I was learning. It’s up to you, but for review, having something you enjoy looking at will make all the difference. 

  1. Set strict time limits on your social media

This tip is the most contentious, and the hardest to follow. I had to set time limits on Instagram and TikTok because I would rack up hours on it a day, often leaving my projects and homework unfinished. I would take a break from scrolling and not even remember what I had just watched. My days were a blank void and I was exhausted from being pulled through that same cycle over and over again.

I asked someone I trusted to set a time limit passcode for me, and they wrote it down in case I needed to access it in the future. I did the same for them. I started with a moderate amount of time for each social media, but gradually whittled it away to what I could stand – 15 minutes a day. On Sundays, I give myself an unlimited amount of time, however, because I usually finish all of my homework before then, and it’s a rest day for me. 

Although it’s a tough habit to break, especially when your fingers automatically go to the spot where your social media lives, I ended up downloading a vaguely more productive app (Duolingo) that helped me curb my need to scroll. And because this is not an ad for Duolingo, I also enjoy reading library books on my phone and playing mindless Crossy Road games. 

When I’m barred from scrolling, I end up getting grumpy, but I eventually get my work done, so this tip (unfortunately) worked for me against my will.

  1. Watch motivational videos

If all else fails, this one always gets me going. I’m not talking about the fake motivational videos, where the person gets up at five and goes for a marathon – no, I’m talking about the college student that takes a video of them studying, or going through their day—to—day activities in a realistic way. It’s important to remember that everyone has trouble motivating themselves, but if you see how others do, you might just be able to guilt—trip yourself into it too. 

That being said, it always helps me when I take a video of myself (a timelapse, usually) so that I can also pretend to be an influencer – yet another way to guilt trip the masses into thinking you’re productive, effortlessly. 

If you’re reading this article, chances are that you’re a bit tired of not being able to do your work on time. Maybe external or internal factors are preventing this, but it’s important to remember that trying is the best first step, and sometimes, can make a world of difference.