You probably know what it’s like to put off studying for an exam until the night before. You might have had the best intentions, but it doesn’t matter when the stress of an exam is bearing down on you.
It’s easy to ignore distant deadlines and to procrastinate on tasks that require a lot of energy and focus, especially when you have to juggle work, family and other obligations. Although procrastination might make it easier to avoid feeling overwhelmed, it’s never a good formula for success. Here are five productivity tips that can help you break your bad habits:
- Identify roadblocks. Maybe you’re confused about how to approach an assignment, or perhaps you’re not quite understanding a concept from the textbook. No matter the case, if you don’t know where to start, it’s not likely that you will. The first step to ending your procrastination is to ask yourself why you’re procrastinating in the first place. Take the time to ask for help if you need it and work with your classmates or your instructors to better understand the task at hand. You’ll be more confident and motivated to get started after you have a game plan in place.
- Get started. Once you know where to start, it’s time to get to work. Rather than avoiding a project, think about what you can do right now to move it forward. Focus on one task for five minutes, and do whatever you can in that time frame to get started. You’ll be more inclined to finish a task once you’ve already started working and you probably won’t even notice when your five minutes is up!
- Divide and conquer. If you’re a habitual procrastinator, then you’re likely accustomed to writing your essays in one sitting, pulling all-nighters and working hard under a tight deadline. It’s no wonder you procrastinate — no one enjoys feeling stressed out. The good news is, you don’t have to do it all at once if you plan ahead. Divide your projects into manageable steps, and work on one part each day. You can even set mid-point deadlines to hold yourself accountable to completing each step. Breaking up your workload will help you avoid those dreaded last-minute cram sessions.
- Make school a priority. It’s important to keep your priorities in perspective, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Try to carve out time each day for your schoolwork —even if you can manage just 20-30 minutes at a time. If you build homework and studying into your schedule, it will be easier to find the time to get your work done each day.
- Cut out distractions. One thing is for sure: you’re not going to be nearly as productive if you’re responding to email or texts, or hanging out with friends or family when you’re trying to study. If you can’t help checking your phone, consider turning it off or putting it on airplane mode during your designated study time. You’ll be surprised at how much easier it is, and how much more quickly you can get things done when you minimize opportunities for distraction.
No matter how crazy your schedule is — or how much work you have to do — a proactive approach to time management is the best way to set yourself up for success. Putting these productivity tips into action will not only help you feel less stressed, you’ll also have time to do your best work.
* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook 2021. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.