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How Procrastinators Can Succeed at University

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Many people confuse procrastinating with being lazy. In reality, the two are completely different. Laziness means wasting your time. When you procrastinate, you justify the fact you’re not working on whatever you should be doing (such as completing an assignment) by doing something you prefer that does have value (such as chores, exercising, or less-urgent coursework).

The bad news is that procrastination makes it difficult to succeed at university. The good news is procrastinators can take steps to become just as studious as the top students in their classes.

1. Divide Big Assignments into Smaller Tasks

Large assignments can feel so overwhelming that you never want to start. The solution is to divide them into more manageable chunks. For example, a first step could be to compile the information you’ll need. You can then create an outline for your paper, and finally, write each section. This tactic also works for long readings — simply divide the reading into a certain number of chapters, pages, or paragraphs for each study session.

To ensure you stay on track, set deadlines for each of these subtasks. This should mean you’re well-prepared to finish by the due date.

2. Reward Yourself

Give yourself a small treat every time you complete one of your subtasks. This can be anything that will motivate you — from a frappé to an episode of a TV show. Reserve bigger rewards for when you submit an entire assignment or take a test. For instance, you could go for drinks with friends or order a meal from your favourite restaurant.

3. Remove Distractions

To stay fully focused, take steps to prevent distractions. Tell your roommates not to disturb you, turn off notifications on your phone, and find a quiet place to study (listening to music may help if you need to block out other noise).

Your own mind is also a common source of distractions. If you think of something else you need to do and you’re worried you’ll forget about it later, jot yourself a note. Switching tasks will only lead you back to procrastination!

4. Change Location

Mix things up by studying in a different location. This is particularly useful when you have something important to do, such as when a major assignment is coming up. Possible options include a coffee shop you’ve never been to before, a new spot on campus, or even a park.

5. Use Sensory Cues

When you’re in your regular study space, use sensory cues to signal that it’s time to focus on coursework. You could put a university mascot on your desk (and perhaps give it a little squeeze before you start studying) or light a candle (scented is best). Put the object away when you’re not studying, including when you take a break. Your mind will start associating the cue with schoolwork, which will make it easier to stay focused and avoid temptations to do something else.

6. Be Kind to Yourself

If you’re a long-term procrastinator, you can’t expect to change overnight. There will be days when you slip back to your old bad habits and need to work extra hard to submit assignments on time. When this happens, keep a positive mindset and promise yourself that you’ll do better next time. Becoming frustrated will only make it harder for you to tackle procrastination in the long term.

You’re at much higher risk of procrastination if you’re unable to focus, such as when you’re constantly bombarded by distractions. This tends to be the case when you live on campus — which is why off-campus student housing is a much better option for procrastinators. For rooms for rent near University of Alberta, there’s 1TEN on Whyte. No matter if you choose to share with roommates or you want your own suite, your fully-furnished apartment will come with a desk, chair, and high-speed internet. You’ll also have access to onsite study rooms for whenever you need a change of scenery. Book an in-person or video tour today.

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