Beyond getting along with a roommate, one of the biggest issues college students face is finding motivation to get academic work done. Unlike high school, college doesn’t come with reminders or second chances. Professors assign work and expect it on the due date. There won’t be a lot of “Remember, the five-page paper assigned two weeks ago is due next week.” You’ll walk into class and the professor will simply have a box to place the papers in. So, how do you get motivated to tackle your academic assignments? Good question. You. You have to find the willpower to motivate yourself.
Everyone wishes they had more time; however, it is a finite resource. Thankfully, the thousands of college students before you can vouch for motivation tips that work. Many of these self-motivation strategies hail from Psychology 101 courses because they work. While the world may still hold many mysteries, how to get stuff done isn’t one of them. Check out these 5 great tips to nip procrastination before it even takes hold.
Map it Out
The number one reason students procrastinate is fear: they look at an assignment and their stomach drops just thinking about how hard or how much of a timesuck this assignment will be. And they essentially stand frozen, in terror, thinking about all the parts that have to be completed. So instead of taking a breath, sitting down, and creating a timeline to get the project or paper down, they toss it in the corner and go do something with friends. The problem with this strategy is that stress builds until it becomes paralyzing. So map it out. Get out a calendar and think through the steps you need to do to complete the project or paper on time. Need more time in your day? Check out these 10 time management tips to extend your day. Stick to your outline and celebrate your milestone completions. Your assignment will be completed before you know it.
Find a Partner
Need to find the willpower to tackle a hard academic project? Find a partner. This strategy has helped thousands of people get to the gym — it can help you get through a project. This is a great strategy to get motivated. Ask a classmate to go to the library or computer lab with you to complete research. Get together to write drafts of a paper and then review them for each other. Work independently and then offer to check each other’s work for accuracy and assignment “must-haves”. If nothing else, working together on your independent assignments means that you can commiserate together until it’s finished! When selecting a partner, it’s important to ask a classmate that is not only interested in doing well, but who you believe you’ll be able to get along with. Skip asking a fellow student who is often late or misses class often — you want a student committed to doing well — the same as you!
Use a Challenge Chart
Remember: when your parents used a behavior chart or your teacher used a reward chart? Know why they created them? Because they work! While you may not want stickers or erasers anymore, you do want things: lattes, movie tickets, App Store splurges. Set up a “chart” and reward yourself when you get through different stages of a project or paper. And when you’re finished? Treat yourself to an awesome night out. Self-motivation is a powerful tool in your academic arsenal. Remember: a solid challenge chart should be specific and break up a task into its key parts; this allows you to experience small successes which lead up to a big success at the end. The more thought you put into planning out the chart, the more motivation you’ll experience to succeed.
This may seem obvious, but it’s hard to avoid procrastinating when you’re surrounded by distractions. So, step one: identify distractions. These will be different for every student, but you should know by now how you best study. Common distractions include friends, phones, noise…you get the idea. Step two: eliminate identified distractions. It’s easy to turn off your phone for a few hours to get some work done. But it’s harder to remove all the distractions that may be lurking in your room. If your dorm room is too full of distractions, you’ll need to find a place where academic tasks can be easily accomplished without constant interruption.
Talk to Your Professor
After receiving a major project or paper, set up several appointments to chat with your professor. The first appointment should be to go over your assignment and ascertain that you know what’s being required. Go into the meeting with a few ideas and discuss the best approach with your professor. Set up another appointment mid-way through to discuss your progress and ensure you’re on the right track. Finally, set up an appointment to discuss the final outcome and see if your professor would recommend any tweaks before final submission. It’s important to come prepared for these meetings: attending with ideas or works-in-progress. Your professor wants to see your progress; he or she won’t sit there and do the thinking or the work for you.
These five tried and true motivation tips are just the beginning! Check out ten more ways to motivate yourself to get stuff done here. The key to defeating procrastination is to face it head on. The minute you have an assignment, develop a plan for success —and stick with it. Life isn’t going to get easier; you’ll be faced with projects and deadlines in whatever job you land after college. So now is the perfect time to hone and perfect the skills to combat procrastination. Like so many other key aspects of life, it comes down to mind over matter. If you think you can do it, you can. Find the best motivation method (or a combination of motivation methods) that work for you and use them.