We know the importance of time management. We’re also familiar with the feeling of joy (or relief) that comes after finishing a daunting task. However, despite our best intentions, we’re often all too willing to put off what needs to be done.

In How to Study in College, Walter Pauk and Ross J. Q. Owens offer suggestions for fighting off procrastination. Share these tips with your students who may find themselves habitually working on assignments until the last minute, or refer to them when you find yourself staring at a looming deadline.


  • Tell others about your plans.By making others aware of what you intend to accomplish, you create accountability around your own actions, and are thus more likely to follow through on your intentions.
  • Assess your progress along the way.By taking a step back, you can gain perspective on what you’ve completed, as well as how much has to be done in the remaining time. Furthermore, this perspective allows you to see if you’ve become mired in detail — you can then adjust the time you’re spending on a given task accordingly.
  • Keep the momentum going.Use your current motivation to your advantage. If you find yourself invigorated and inspired by the completion of one task, channel that energy into starting another, less-appealing task. Once you’ve begun, you may find yourself more willing to see that task through to completion as well.
  • Rather than watching the clock, set a timer to stay on schedule.By allowing something else to keep track of passing time, you can concentrate on the task at hand — rather than the hands of the clock. Use your alarm clock, kitchen timer, a stopwatch, your smartphone… anything that will buzz or ring to let you know the allotted time is up.
  • Spell out your specific goals.Naming the exact steps it will take to complete your project can make it seem more manageable, and thus less intimidating.
  • Bring your excuses to light.Write them down, or tell them to a friend. Once those excuses are out in the open, you can see them for what they are.
  • Create a mental picture of your accomplishment.Seeing your specific task, project, or assignment complete in your mind’s eye can create a vision for success that motivates you towards reaching your goal. (pp 80-81)

Reference: Content adapted from Pauk and Owens. How to Study in College, 10E Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.