• Jan MacWatters

Avoiding Procrastination... And Developing Study Habits

It's fair to say that most people, but especially teens tend to procrastinate. The most common questions heard in today's classrooms are "Is this for a grade?" And "When is it due?" Unfortunately, during these pandemic times, students are left much more to their own devices and procrastination can be even greater problem.


If you have not been taught explicitly how to study, you can teach yourself. And now is as good a time as any other to start with learning time management skills that are necessary for college and real life. Due dates are important in the real world. There are no re-takes for interviews. There are no missed deadlines at work or in college. Students should learn to manage their time well before they get to a point where it becomes a vital skill.


a. Set aside a time and place to do your work. If you're not in the classroom during the day at school, set aside a place to do schoolwork, and use it for that. Keep your books and your computer there. Switch off access to any social media you have while you are in your workspace.

b. Use a calendar to track the tasks you need to complete. There are many apps out there to track what you need to do as far as assignments. If you have 90 minutes for a specific subject, but don't need to meet online, create an appointment in your calendar and set an alarm. Whether you opt for chipper (free) trkrcenter.co (paid) you need to figure out a system that works for you. Sometimes, it's worth paying to develop the skills as you go. Trkrcenter.co will show you the connection between the amount of time spent and the grade you get.

c. Separate any assignment into doable "chunks" of time. 15 minutes a day is better than leaving it all to the day before it is due. Create an appointment for each task.


An essay can be split into planning time/research time/ writing time/ editing time and rewriting time/citation creation time. You also need some thinking time between steps. Try ayoa or trello, both of which have free and paid versions. You can also organize your thoughts with mindmapping at coggle and mindmup.


Check out this youtube by Buzan, who is credited with the concept of mindmapping. I like the measurement tool in mindmup that helps me figure out time spent on any portion of an assignment.

d. Have a plan before you start. Review what you did at the end of the session or day. Move anything that didn't get done to the calendar for tomorrow.


Note: write down how much time you spend on a task. Most students underestimate the amount of time it takes to do an assignment well. This will help you develop the ability to assess how long it will take to do something during the planning stage.

e. Don't re-invent the wheel. Read about time management. "7 habits of Highly Effective Teens" by Sean Covey is a good starting point but there are many blogs, books and websites out there. This is not the first group of students to struggle with time management.

g. Be satisfied with your work. Perfection is not always expected, nor needed. You are learning and if you did your best, you'll continue to improve. Better to turn in an assignment that is imperfect and get a lower grade than try for perfection and get a failing grade.

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