How I Stay Focused and Avoid Procrastination

Academic Guidance

How I Stay Focused and Avoid Procrastination

In high school, I never had a problem procrastinating and still getting my work done by the time assignment deadlines rolled around. However, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to keep this up once I got to college. So, during my first quarter at Stanford, I made a conscious effort to change my study habits for the better. Here are a few of the best tips I learned to stay focused on work and avoid procrastination:


1. Remove all distractions. This is the simplest tip there is to help you stay focused on your work. In my case, this means closing all of my internet tabs open to social media sites and putting my phone on silent whenever I sit down to study. If I am writing a paper, I find that Focus View on Microsoft Word works well to limit my distractions. If I am working on a written assignment, I usually just go ahead and turn my computer off so that I don’t get tempted to scroll through my Facebook feed or spend time on other similar sites. The next time you sit down to do some work, identify what distracts you the most and remove those things from your study environment.

2. Set deadlines for yourself. I find that I work best when I know I have a deadline coming up soon. My system involves breaking down each of my assignments into manageable parts. I then set individual deadlines for each of these parts, with the last deadline being the actual date that I need to turn in the assignment. This ensures that I have enough time to do my best work on each of the assignment components and that I don’t feel rushed to complete them around the time of the actual deadline. If you don’t feel like you can hold yourself accountable to these deadlines, then try asking a friend to help you. You could also try finding sources of motivation like this website (http://www.stickk.com/) which sends your money to an organization that you hate if you fail to meet your commitments.

3. Study in places other than your dorm room. I am most comfortable in my dorm room so I find that studying in my room sometimes leads to me being unable to focus on my work. Conversely, when I study in places like libraries, I have the mindset that I am there for the sole purpose of studying so I tend to get more work done in these environments. I’m not sure if anyone else has this problem, but studying in a new environment can be a good way to restore your focus. Additionally, new study spots can break the monotony of studying in one place for too long and can renew your motivation to get work done.

4. Plan out your week. This is arguably the most useful method I have of keeping myself from procrastinating. At the beginning of every week, I plan out everything that I need to do, down to the minute. Here’s an example of how I would plan out my week:


I may not always be able to follow my schedule perfectly, but I find that I am more productive when I have a set plan that I need to follow. Just remember to leave time for study breaks and that it’s not the end of the world if you have to deviate from your schedule!