How to stop procrastinating and be more productive  

By Lily Collin

You’ve known about your chemistry test for a week already. Yet here you are, the night before, cursing, because it’s already late, and you should sleep. But up until now, you haven’t managed to get off your phone… The subject is not making any sense at all now, but you don’t want to give up and fail the test! This same thing happened the other night, when you waited until the last possible minute to complete that annoying assignment. 

Many of us agree that studying is a big struggle. We procrastinate, often by being stuck on social media for hours, and then we feel guilty about it. Still, it seems near impossible to find a way to stop scrolling.  

This is because our body and mind know that studying is a draining activity, and they therefore try to avoid it. This a problem a lot of us face on a daily basis. Here are a few tips that can come in handy to stop the cycle… 

Avoid social media and your phone 

One of the most common ways of procrastinating is by being on your phone: scrolling on Instagram or TikTok, instead of studying for that dreaded chemistry test. To avoid this from happening, avoid social media when you get home, and right before you should be doing your homework or studying. 

If you start by opening Instagram when you get home, you will probably be hooked, and procrastinate. This is because you will keep thinking ”oh well, I’ll just look at a few more posts and reels”… In no time, an hour will have passed. I’m not saying that you should stop using social media, but it can be beneficial to have a screen time limit, or other restraints, such as timers for specific apps. Or, you can just have a routine, where scrolling on Instagram is done only AFTER you’ve completed your homework.  

Many of us also get distracted while studying, so it is recommended that you put your phone away. If, for example, you’re sitting at your desk, put your phone far away. It should not be within your reach. This means that if you want to reach for it, you will have to get up from your chair.  There is a smaller chance that you will use it if you have to get up and walk across the room. However, if you need to use your phone for the homework, put it on “do not disturb”-mode, so that you don’t get distracting notifications.

Find a Study-Place 

Another occuring reason for unproductiveness is ”fake studying”. This is when your books are open, and you’re ”studying”, but you’re actually chatting with friends, playing with your phone, or daydreaming. This is problematic behavior, as it makes you think that you are studying, and therefore it can be hard for you to distinguish free time from work. The consequences are that you will be extremely unproductive, and feel tired, even though you won’t have actually done much work.  

The best way to go about this is to have a specific time and place that your brain associates with studying. Studying in your bed, or another comfortable place, like a sofa, is in most cases not recommended at all; these places are associated with relaxation and free time. Instead, sit at a desk, or maybe the kitchen table: a relatively tidy surface, that is free from distractions. If you don’t have a good spot in which to study, continue reading this list… 

Make a to-do list and break down bigger tasks 

I find it easier and less draining to do homework than to study for a test. This is because while doing homework, I can always see the finish line. Let’s say I have to write an essay for English, and I know that in about 40 minutes, I will be done; this will bring me satisfaction, and won’t make the work seem so daunting. 

However, in the case of a chemistry test: studying for it feels much more like an infinite project. It gets overwhelming: I don’t know where to start, what to do, or how much time it will take. Therefore, it’s good to make a clear to-do list the day before, so that you know what to expect the next day. Without a plan, you’re more prone to procrastination, because you feel intimidated by the workload. When you have to study for a test, it’s good to make a proper study plan first, breaking down the work into different parts, and deciding what you will do on which day. By writing ”study chemistry” in your agenda, you won’t get as good results, as when writing “task 1: read pages 120-150, task 2: underline key-words in the worksheet…” 

Another important thing is to make your to-do list achievable. It has to give you enough time to eat dinner, read a book, or watch Netflix for a bit. And, most importantly, make sure it allows you to go to sleep at a reasonable hour.  

Set a Time Limit 

In order to have a good to-do list, it’s good if you estimate how long each task will take you.  This will make it easier to use your time efficiently. Time limits also help you while you’re working. When you put a timer for how long the task should take you, you will be more motivated to get the task done in that given time, and so you work harder!

Listen to music  

Do you easily get distracted by noises at home? Listening to music while studying might help! Some people are able to listen to any music, but if that’s not the case for you, it’s usually easier if the music is only instrumental (no words). You can either search up “study music”, or listen to some calm classical music. 

Go to the library 

A tip for people that don’t feel like they can fully focus at home: find a nearby library, and study there. It helps you get rid of most distractions around you. And you don’t associate it with sleep, or entertainment, which might be the case at home. It’s also motivating to see everybody around you work. Additionally, you can’t watch TikTok videos if you don’t bring headphones, because it’s supposed to be a quiet space…