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Comment on : Fight Procrastination and Win

Fight Procrastination and Win

Fight Procrastination and Win

Suggest these tips to your teenager to make the battle easier

Students procrastinate for a variety of reasons.  We help students ask themselves why they insist on putting off their work until the last minute, and develop solutions based on their answers.  Here are a few common reasons and our suggestions.  See if these problems sound familiar.

"I sit down to work, but I struggle to get started doing anything."

  1. Assemble your tools.  Before you start, make sure you have everything you'll need to complete the job.  Every time you need to leave your desk to grab a calculator, textbook, or eraser, you'll need to endure the "starting process" all over again.
  2. Don't worry about the whole process; just focus on the very next step.  If you're not at your workspace yet, just go sit down.  If you're sitting with all your tools assembled, find the correct page in your textbook (or start brainstorming a thesis, or reread what you've already written).  The first step is usually the hardest to take, but it's often the simplest.  You probably know what you need to do first. Don't let steps 2-15 get in the way of doing step 1.
  3. Break it down.  Tell yourself you just need to work for 5 minutes.  A small amount of work is a lot less intimidating.
  4. Reward yourself.  Set goals for yourself (e.g. work 20 minutes, finish this page, complete problems 15-25, etc.) and establish awards for their completion.  It might be checking Facebook or getting a snack.  Two critical points: (a) The reward must take no more than five minutes, and (b) you must reserve the reward for completion of the task. 
  5. Find something exciting about the project.  Is there one idea that especially interests you? Can you find a thesis that you really want to prove? Of course, there will be times that you simply can't get excited no matter how hard you try. For these, the exciting part might be simply finishing your work! Imagine how great it will feel to be done.

"I hate working on a particular class or certain types of assignments."

  1. You might not know how to do these assignments, or at least think you don't.   Learning is hard work, and without someone showing you how to approach things you're likely to get demoralized.  It's important to ask for help; part of being a good student is being able to admit when you don't understand.
  2. The project is too intimidating in size or scope. Break it down into smaller pieces, or make the work you need to do more specific.
  3. You might be focusing on the negative aspects.  Attitude is important. If all you can think about is the video game you wish you were playing, you'll have a miserable time and your essay will be lackluster. Force yourself to make a mental list of the good aspect of your work.  It could be a good outcome (like a high test score) or an enjoyable part of the process (working with your friend to make a movie for Spanish class).

"I can start my work, but I get distracted and never finish."

  1. Stick to small tasks.  Similar to advice above, but worth repeating.
  2. Focus on one thing at a time.  If you find yourself drifting to other schoolwork, chores, or one of your "rewards," bring your attention back to the task at hand.  This is especially important if you have a lot on your plate.
  3. Get away from screens.  The biggest distractions come from TVs, computers, iPods, and phones.  It's an unpopular approach, but we've seen students improve from C's to A's while spending less time on homework just by working away from these "conveniences." Going to the library is a huge help.
  4. Clear your study space.  If possible, take everything except your work materials off your desk.  You'll work faster.
  5. Take planned breaks.  In addition to motivating you, rewards can help you maintain your focus.  By taking a quick break every 30 minutes, you can relax without worrying that you should be working.  By allowing yourself time to put your mind elsewhere, you make it easier to focus for a longer period of time.

Whenever students put off their school work, it's useful for them to think about why they feel so much resistance.  This can tell them a lot about how they approach school, and how they can improve their performance and make their studies less arduous.  This is a long process, which can take months (or years).  In the meantime, they'll need to get their work done.

Milestone Academic Counseling is an educational services company that equips students with fundamental academic skills, from organization and time management to reading comprehension and analytical thinking.

Call us today at 609-751-1677 to schedule a free consultation, or visit our website,