5 Ways To Avoid The Procrastination Trap In College

How many times have you heard a teacher say those dreaded words? A project that is such a huge undertaking, that it cannot be postponed until the last minute. As a proud procrastinator, I usually scoffed at those words, and carried on, with one incredibly hectic day at the tail end.

But even I had to admit that writing a twelve or fifteen page paper in one night is one of the worst decisions that I have made.  If you’re just trying to pass a class, and you’re a good writer, this is probably fine. That’s what I thought. But if you’re aiming for something better, here are some tips for successful projects and papers.

  • 1) Pace yourself. Not saying that your professors don’t know their projects best, but you know yourself best. After high school, you can probably approximate how much time something will take you, and how busy you will be around that time.  In addition to that, you know what you need to do to keep going. 5 minute breaks every couple of hours? A walk? Snacks? Whatever it is, you need to keep motivated and keep your mind fresh, do it. But don’t overdo it. After all, you are operating on limited time.
  • 2) Form a Thesis.  What is the purpose of your paper or project? This is important to keep in mind, and, may need changing throughout your work. One of my lit professors recommended writing the thesis last, after the paper, because that way you would know what you wanted your thesis to be.  I never took that approach, although I had changed my thesis after realizing that my paper went into an opposite direction. Theses are necessary to keep your focus on what you want your project to be.
  • 3)Decide what questions you want to answer. Additionally, if it would help, write an outline.  This will also keep your paper focused, and can be a useful tool when thinking of your audience. If you keep what your audience knows, as well as what they should know, in mind, then it will make the presentation or paper all the more engaging.
  • 4) Play it safe with citations. This is the   one thing that most professors care the most about. Occasionally, they’ll specify which form of citation they prefer, but even if they don’t, citation is one of the most important things in papers or presentations.  It is better to over cite than under cite, from what I have experienced. When in doubt, you could always ask the professor or any of the resources that your school offers.
  • 5) Practice.  This obviously applies to presentations, but it is especially important.  Timing is important in presentations, and there is often multiple students going in one day. In order to meet your target time, practice is necessary.  The other result could go one of two ways; either you over your time limit (rambling) or you’ll have much too much time for questions. Not only that, but practicing will allow you to be much more confident.

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Stefanie Hughes

Stefanie Hughes

Stefanie Hughes is a senior at Benedictine University, with a double major in Writing & Publishing and Theology. She spends her free time working on Benedictine’s newspaper, The Candor, as well as being a member of Daughters of Isabella, Students for Life, and helping around University Ministry. Any other extra time is filled with reading, writing, cooking, video editing, biking or walking around the lake.

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