7 Tips on how to stop procrastinating

7 Tips on how to stop procrastinating

We’ve all been there: it’s 2 am and you’re drinking your second, okay third, Red Bull, cramming for a test you knew about weeks ago. You had the time to study, but your room suddenly needed a deep clean. Your cupboards also needed to be colour coordinated and arrange by length. You have been living on 2-minute noodles for months, but you suddenly crave home cooking. 

We have all fallen into the procrastination trap. You know what you should be doing; you just don’t want to. 

It can be hard at first, but you can totally work on it. Here are our tips and tricks to help you on the way. 

  • Plan through the psych-out

So, you want to start, but there is a voice in your head psyching you out: I won’t make it. What if I fail? There is so much to learn, what if I don’t get done? 

We know you want to ace the test, and your fears are valid. But the best way to get your studying done is to start. Make a list of what you need to do, it will give you an overview of your tasks and be a source of motivation. A list can also provide you with a clear view of how much you’ve already managed to do and can give you a sense of accomplishment. 

Don’t worry, we won’t just leave you hanging. Here are a few practical tips on how to manage your studies.

  • Positive talk 

You know that annoying voice in your head that keeps shouting doubts? Silence that meanie by visualizing a positive outcome. Replace your negative thoughts with positive ones. When the devil on your shoulder says: “I’m going to fail this test”, replace it with “I can do well on this test!” Because you can.

Photo: Prateek Katyal via Unsplash.com
  • Create a dedicated workspace

It can be fun to chill in your pj’s and study on your bed. But is that really productive? How often do you find yourself napping because your bed feels comfy? To get your stuff done, create a comfortable workspace where you can study. Keep it organised and free from distractions. That book you want to read? Put it away. Make sure your laptop doesn’t have any series on it.  

Don’t give yourself a reason to be distracted. 

  • Eliminate all distractions 

How many times a day do you pick up your phone, check your notifications and end up getting distracted from the tasks at hand? Or fall down the Instagram timeline until you’re on your BFF’s sister’s boyfriend’s cousin’s profile? 

To be at your most productive and power through your tasks, you need to focus. So, put your phone on flight mode to eliminate the notifications and WhatsApp messages that can come through. You can also use your earphones, to cancel out one of your senses and minimize the risk of distractions. 

  • Time batch and take a break 

So, you are finally ready to sit down and start. But how long should you study? You can only concentrate for a limited time, and you know how much you can get done within that timeframe. Identify your study goal (say two chapters) for 50 minutes, set an alarm and study. As soon as it goes off take a 10–20-minute break. Stretch, scream into a pillow, or take a walk – do anything that allows you to relax. When you come back, you will be ready to focus on the work at hand.  

  • Bribing works 

Everyone loves being rewarded, even if it’s by yourself. It’s important to give yourself incentives, no matter how small. It could be something as simple as “If I get an A in math this semester, I’ll treat myself at my favourite restaurant.” It’s easier to pay attention when something is at stake.  

  • Get someone to hold you accountable 

If all else fails, tell someone your goal. Now someone is holding you responsible for your goals. So, you can’t back out or slough it off. As a bonus, you also have someone to celebrate your victories with, no matter how big or small. Hey, maybe they can join you at your favourite restaurant.

Our Centre for Teaching and Learning can help find an academic peer mentor.

Now get cracking!


  1. Palesa

    Hey..I really appreciate your assistance about procrastination and I really enjoyed reading..and I think and believe I took them as an advice to myself and mylife

    Thank you so so much

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