How to Stop Procrastinating and Study Effectively: Top 10 Tips for High School and College Students

Student Life

May 26, 2021

Never leave that till tomorrow, which you can do today.

-Benjamin Franklin

All of us, whether or not we're willing to admit it, procrastinate. Honestly, homework isn't all that fun, so it's easier to do other things instead. But ignoring homework or putting it off until the last minute isn't the answer, and it will cause your grades to suffer.

So what can you do to change your study habits and make every minute count?

Are You A Procrastinator?

On some level, all of us are procrastinators in the smallest ways. Not because we don't feel like doing anything, but because we need a break. It becomes a problem, however, when nothing gets done.

To find out if you are a true procrastinator, here is a simple test for you to take.

How To Stop Procrastinating

1. Get Yourself In The Study Mindset

Instead of jumping straight into studying, take a few minutes before starting to relax and get ready to work. Read through your assignments, stretch out, whatever makes you want to hit those books.

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2. Listen To Music

If you need background noise when you work, try putting on music. Music helps stimulate the brain and put you in a good mood.

When it comes to picking music to study to, classical and instrumental music are the best options because there aren't any words to distract you, just beautiful melodies.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

Katy Adelson

Brooklyn Duo

Russian Waltzes

The Carnival of the Animals

3. Schedule Your Studying

Buy yourself a school planner. Whenever you get a new assignment, write down what the assignment is, and when it's due. Make a list of the steps needed to complete the project, and how much time each one should take.

After you complete each assignment, put a checkmark next to it. You could also have special stickers to mark completed assignments if you want to make it a little fancier.

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4. Set A Timer

Instead of studying all at once for hours on end, break up your study time into sections. For example, set a timer for twenty minutes and spend that time diligently working. When the timer goes off, stop where you are at and give yourself a break for ten or so minutes.

5. Find The Right Study Space

Make your space someplace that makes you excited about studying. A good study space should be quiet, free of distractions, and have plenty of light. If your current study space isn't providing these for you, it might be time for an update.

Add a lamp to your desk or move it closer to a window. Hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door to let others know that you are working.

Pinup some inspirational quotes on the walls around your desk, along with pictures of your goals to remind you of where you want to be.

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6. Dress Up Your School Supplies

Get yourself excited to sit and study by making your supplies fun. Buy pretty notebooks and fun pens and pencils in a variety of colors. You could even buy plain notebooks and pencils and decorate them yourself with ribbons, glitter glue, and stickers.

Stores like Michael's, Hobby Lobby, and Five Below all have great stationery options that are reasonably priced.

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7. Turn Off The Phone

Cell phones are incredibly addictive, and can easily become a distraction. When it's time to sit down and study, put your phone somewhere far away from your study area, so you have to get up and walk to get it. Better yet, put it in a different room, so you aren't tempted during your study session to start scrolling.

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8. Wear the Right Clothes

No one expects you to look like a supermodel when you sit down to study, so wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. Even if it is a stained T-shirt, ratty sweat pants, and no make-up. On the flip side, if dressing up makes you more productive, put on your best outfit.

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9. Have An Accountability Partner

If you have a friend or sibling that also struggles with procrastination, see if they would like to become procrastination accountability partners. Decide what your goals are and how often you want to meet. At each meeting, tell each other whether you have accomplished your goals. If you didn't accomplish them, talk about different ways you can work towards completing your goals next time.

10. Reward Yourself

After you have finished your work for the night, reward yourself by watching an episode of your favorite TV show, enjoying a relaxing bubble bath, or just doing whatever makes you feel good after a long day of hard work.

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Why We Procrastinate: Stories From Students

...With virtual school, procrastinating is so easy. I didn’t have to go to extracurriculars, I was literally stuck at home for months, so it didn’t feel like there was a rush. It was easy to just be like “I’ll do it later”. And so that’s why I procrastinated. — Caroline Rendell

I think that the last year has definitely caused procrastination to become more widespread. We're all human, so if we are sat alone in a room and have a choice between studying or scrolling through social media... it's quite clear which one is going to be favorable! However, it has taught me a lot about self-motivation and self-discipline, too. Personally, I find to-do lists really useful because you can give yourself a list of specific objectives and suddenly the tasks ahead of you don't seem too daunting. - Samuel Burton

My Story:

For the most part, I have always enjoyed school, but just like most people, I struggle with procrastination. My problem stems from boredom. If it's something that I don't like studying, usually it gets put off until the last minute (often for me, that's math).

During my high school career, I managed to get most of my work done in a timely manner, without procrastinating. Algebra was a very different story. I absolutely hated it and it was one of the subjects I had trouble with. I always put it off, telling myself I would do it when I was feeling more up to it.

Eventually, I started feeling guilty and came clean to my mom. She got a tutor for me and worked with me herself to get me on track in understanding algebra better and keeping me from procrastinating.

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Procrastination is a powerful enemy, one that takes time and lots of hard work to defeat. It might be hard to keep it at bay in the beginning, but the more effort you put into getting your work done, the less power it has over you.

Cassandra Stinger
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Writer since Jun, 2020 · 31 published articles

Cassandra Stinger is a journalist, aspiring author, and preschool teacher from central Kansas. When she's not writing or working, she can be found reading, cooking, or pursuing photography.