If you follow the steps below, you can manage your assignments in a way that allows you to complete your best work and avoid the negative emotional roller coaster of procrastination.
- Prioritize tasks. Before you tackle a big project like writing a paper or studying for an exam, break down into steps everything that needs to be done in order to reach your ultimate goal. Creating smaller steps and goals will allow you to see the final assignment as less daunting and more manageable. Make a list prioritizing these steps by importance or by what must be done first in order to move on to subsequent steps.
- Create a schedule with self-implemented deadlines. Estimate the amount of time you anticipate each step will take to complete. Be realistic and even overestimate a little bit so that you can avoid becoming discouraged if you fall behind on your schedule.
- Eliminate distractions. When it comes to being distracted from the task at hand, we all have our weaknesses and we know how they can hinder our progress. Before starting, remove all distractions (like your cell phone, Facebook, etc.), knowing that they might provide you an excuse to procrastinate, which is what you are trying to avoid.
- Just start. Don’t allow yourself to become consumed by preparation, because that too can become a distraction and get you off task. Just give yourself a start time and stick to it. If you’re trying to write a paper or begin studying for a test, tell yourself that you will write or study for five minutes straight without stopping. You will probably find that once you get over this initial hurdle, it will be much easier to continue working.
- Acknowledge accomplishments. Make sure to take breaks so that you don’t burn yourself out. Once you reach a small goal, like studying two chapters of material, reward yourself with 15 minutes to relax, or order your favorite coffee drink. Be sure to reflect upon the successful work you’ve done, but be sure to stick to your schedule and avoid getting carried away with break time.