It can be tempting to wait until the next day and the next day to do something. I can tell countless stories where I have waited until the night before or even the day the assignment was due to start working on it. My favorite phrase to tell my friends is, “ No need to worry, I have plenty of time.” That is called procrastination: the act of putting off something until a later date.
Let’s face it: we all have procrastinated at one point or another in our lives. And that’s okay! Here are five tips I use (and you can too) to stop putting off work and make my life easier.
1. Start working early
You might have an assignment that isn’t due for three days. Instead of waiting until the day before, start working on it now. You won’t have to rush to get things done, your overall performance will improve, and you won’t feel frustrated. Getting a head start on assignments that seem far away will give you more free time to do whatever you please later.
2. Start with the hard things first
You may dread them the most, but you should try to get the harder, more time-consuming things out of the way before tackling the easy tasks. After you’ve done all the hard stuff, everything after it will seem quick and easy to do. This will leave you with more time to yourself at the end of the day.
Related: Top 10 Ways to Avoid Procrastination
3. Make your own deadlines
Set your own personal dates and take baby steps to complete large tasks. Maybe you have a big project coming up and don’t know where to begin. Try setting aside tomorrow to brainstorm some ideas, then write down what you want to get done the next day or the next until your project is completed. If I have multiple tasks, I do a journal entry and assignment for my sociology class one day and then work on my business management classwork the next day. Although the assignments may not be due until a week later, planning ahead allows me to have more free time after I am done with my work and gives me a greater sense of accomplishment.
4. Give yourself a break
Don’t push yourself too hard—everyone needs a break once in a while. After completing a portion of your work, take a 10- or 15-minute break and watch YouTube or listen to music. I like to read to calm myself down and try to relax. It gives me a chance to put work aside and relax my brain for a bit before I start again.
5. Reward yourself
Sometimes you believe you have plenty of time before you have to start, so instead of getting to work, you watch TV or play video games. Those are fine to do, but after you finish your tasks. To push yourself to get everything done, look at the video games as a reward for doing all your work.
Another reward system is doing a portion of your work and giving yourself a piece of candy. I especially use this for long readings—I get through a couple of paragraphs or a chapter, then I give myself a candy for doing it.
Related: Can You Make Studying More Fun?
Find more ways to manage your tasks in our Majors and Academics section.