Tips for When You Procrastinate Doing an Assignment

We’ve all been there – an assignment is looming, and instead of getting started, you find yourself avoiding it at all costs. You might tell yourself “I’ll start later,” or get distracted by less important tasks, only to keep pushing the assignment off. Procrastination when faced with large, complex, unpleasant or boring tasks is very common, but that doesn’t make it helpful. When battling procrastination with assignments, effective strategies include breaking tasks into smaller, manageable parts, setting realistic deadlines, and leveraging resources like essay writing services for studs to provide guidance and support when motivation is low.

The reasons for procrastination are varied, but often come down to the assignment feeling too big, too difficult, or just too taxing to dive right into. Thankfully there are some simple, practical tips you can follow to beat procrastination and finally get working on that assignment that keeps getting avoided:

Break It Down Into Very Small, Bite-Sized Pieces

One major reason assignments get put off is that staring down a major, multi-part project can feel incredibly overwhelming. The sheer scope of the work ahead makes it very tempting to avoid getting started or to just focus energy on less demanding tasks instead.

The antidote? Break that huge assignment down into very small, manageable pieces and mini tasks. List out each section, subsection, or even each paragraph of the work as its own short, discrete item. For example, just focusing on finding and compiling your resources is one task; writing an introductory paragraph is another task; compiling and inserting citations is another task, and so on. Checking little items off your to-do list gives you an ongoing sense of progress and momentum.

Chunking down a major project into its smallest accomplishable pieces makes big intimidating goals feel approachable. It also means you experience the positive feelings of checking tasks off your list frequently, which spurs you on.

Silence Your Inner Critic

We all have that negative little inner voice that crops up and criticizes our efforts, ideas, and capabilities. When you’re avoiding an assignment, often that inner critic contributes to procrastination by telling you that you won’t do a good job, that the work is too hard or even impossible, or that you should be spending your time on more enjoyable things. Any of that sound familiar? Overcoming procrastination during assignments involves breaking tasks into smaller, more manageable steps, setting realistic deadlines, and seeking assistance from top essay writing services in the UK when faced with time constraints or challenges, ensuring both efficiency and quality in your academic work.

The next time that overly critical inner voice pipes up as you are just about to start on your assignment, stop and actively silence it. Essentially, say “thanks but no thanks” for that unhelpful input. Deliberately turn your focus back squarely onto the task at hand without judgment. Perfectionism, self-criticism, irrational assumptions, and debilitating doubt drag us backward; objective, nonjudgmental action propels us forward. Train yourself to recognize self-defeating thoughts and self-talk and redirect your thinking.

Just Focus On Getting Started

When faced with an unpleasant task, just staring at that blank page or empty document is intimidating. The act of getting started when we’d rather scroll social media or clean our desks for the tenth time can feel nearly impossible. Starting requires effort – mental effort to override the desire to procrastinate.

An extremely useful tip is to temporarily lower the bar and tell yourself “I’m just getting started,” without any expectation that you’ll immediately work for hours or finish right away or do brilliant work straight away. Just overcome that initial resistance and create your first sentence, write your first paragraph, format your first heading, or compile that first batch of sources. Build momentum gradually from there. Accomplishable bite-sized progress beats getting stuck in the planning and dread stage.

Use The “Two-Minute Rule” For Tiny Tasks

This tip comes from David Allen’s popular productivity book Getting Things Done. The “two-minute rule” states that if there is any activity related to accomplishing your goal that would take two minutes or less to complete, you should do it immediately when you think of it, rather than writing it down for eventual completion. This can help nip procrastination behaviors in the bud before they even start.

Look for tiny tasks related to your assignment completion goal – formatting your Word or Google doc appropriately, creating document headers, opening a citation management app or bookmarks folder for sources, signing into reference resource sites you’ll need, compiling documents in the correct file folder. Take two minutes do each of these little tasks straight away when they occur to you. This builds momentum and gets you making progress rather than delaying.

Eliminate Online Distractions

Let’s face it – our computers and phones offer an unlimited 24/7 buffet of diversions, distractions, rabbit holes and time wasters when we should be working. When it’s time to get serious about tackling that assignment, use website blockers, put your phone in another room, turn off all notifications, close unneeded programs and browser tabs. Direct 100% of your attention solely and completely to the task during focused work sessions. After all, you know that assignment cannot get done if you are endlessly multitasking, fracturing your time and mental energy. Remove temptations to guarantee you make the most of work time.

Give Yourself Moderate, Realistic Deadlines

Only the rarest and most motivated procrastinator can suddenly spring into productive action without the pressured motivation of a deadline looming. As you break that big assignment down into smaller tasks, be kind but firm and realistic with yourself about timing, and create both large and small deadlines for interim steps as you go. Rather than just a final due date, also assign yourself deadlines for finishing certain sections. These self-imposed, moderated deadlines create productive external pressure and urgency. Just be sure you build in more time cushion than you think you’ll need when establishing deadlines and milestones; underestimating the required effort or task complexity adds unnecessary strain and panic.

Plan And Schedule In Advance

Cram sessions, all-nighters and mad dashes to finish assignments at the eleventh hour are anxiety producing, physically exhausting and depleting. Moreover, they typically don’t lead to your best work. Establish healthy incremental work patterns instead by doing some planning and logistics in advance. Mark assignment completion goals as well as project milestones on your calendar. Schedule reasonable blocks of time for focused work periods, not just stolen minutes between other tasks and obligations.  Give your brain decidedly sufficient, quality time spans to operate in “deep work” mode in order to make genuine, measurable progress on milestones. The result will be less stress and higher quality output.

Promise Yourself Future Fun As Reward

Let’s be honest – fun, immediately gratifying activities like gaming, binge watching a show, hanging out with friends, going down internet rabbit holes or indulging in a sweet treat are often exactly what we would prefer to be spending time on instead of some difficult or tedious assignment. And that’s okay! After you put in an hour or a block of solid, distraction-free assignment work time, promise yourself you’ll take a break to do something fun as soon as you hit a milestone or subgoal. Watching an episode of a show, taking a walk outside, chatting with your roommate, or enjoying a snack or dessert can be great little incentives. Just make sure you deliver on actually taking those breaks and small rewards. This pattern helps train your brain to willingly delay immediate gratification in order to earn future fun activities.

Harness Energy and Enthusiasm However You Can

It’s really tough to feel intrinsically motivated, energized and excited when bored by or resenting an assignment. Sometimes you have to actively prime your own emotional pump. Make an energizing playlist and listen to it as you work through complex sections. Watch Youtube videos that spark your sense of inspiration, courage, focus or determination just before a work session. Remind yourself of how satisfying it feels to turn in polished work that you feel genuinely proud of to spur yourself on. Deliberately prime, elicit, and harness motivated, positive emotional energy however you can. Leverage feelings in addition to sheer willpower where possible.

Enlist An Accountability Buddy

It takes less effort and feels far easier to make excuses, cheat milestones, or procrastinate on work tasks when you’re operating solo depending solely on your own initiative and self-discipline day after day. Enlist an accountability buddy – ideally a friend, classmate, roommate or family member who also has pressing assignments or work tasks demanding their focus at the same time. Check in with each other daily or weekly. Share your upcoming milestones and work plans and deadlines. Follow up on whether you achieved what you set out to do.

Simply sharing your goals, plans and intentions alongside another person working toward their own priorities makes them feel more concrete and commitments feel stronger. Knowing you’ll have to verbally admit to your buddy that you failed to follow through as planned acts as extra motivation to stay focused. We are social creatures wired to care about letting down others depending on us. Leverage accountability partnerships to enable progress rather than isolation.

Most importantly, go easy on yourself if you do happen to procrastinate or get temporarily de-railed despite your best conscious intentions and efforts. Self-criticism and feeling ashamed makes regrouping yourself and getting back on track massively harder. Show yourself compassion, notice if certain strategies are or are not working, actively apply what does work, and renew your commitment to planned progress. Perfection is not required, just gentle perseverance and an emphasis on moving forward with the ultimate goal of assignment completion. You genuinely do have all it takes to handle whatever assignments come your way.

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