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Few will admit it, but we all do it: pro­cras­tinate.

It begins so inno­cently. “I’ll only watch one episode,” you say to yourself. One episode turns into another, and then another, until you look at the clock, realize that it’s 2 a.m., and remember that you have a 4-page paper due tomorrow that you have not yet started. Yikes.

We have all been in a similar sit­u­ation, and at that point, there’s not much more we can do than brew some coffee and power through.

However, there are many ways we can prevent that stressful sit­u­ation from ever occurring. Here are a few tips that will help prevent pro­cras­ti­nation, promote pro­duc­tivity, and boost your GPA.

Use a planner

First, get a planner– and actually use it.

Find a planner with both a monthly layout and a section for each day. Write in all of your upcoming due dates and com­mit­ments on the monthly page. Make to-do lists in your daily sec­tions and include the amount of time you should spend on par­ticular assign­ments. For example, if you have a paper due in two days, pencil in a few hours ded­i­cated to working on it. This will not only help you use your time wisely, but it can make a list of assign­ments seem less over­whelming.

Schedule break times

Another great way to curve pro­cras­ti­nation is by inten­tionally setting aside time from the week to do things you love. Plan out a couple of hours per week to indulge in some­thing, such as working out, med­i­tating, or watching a couple episodes of your favorite Netflix series. Sched­uling in this block of fun “me time” might be the refresher you need to help reduce your overall stress. This, in turn, could make it easier to buckle down and get to work when you need to.

Avoid social media

One of the most tempting dis­trac­tions is social media. You’re sitting there, working hard on this project. And then you spot it- a noti­fi­cation saying that cute boy that you’ve been eyeing in Cal­culus like your latest Instagram photo. You have to check it! Then you click on his profile and look through all of his adorable photos… and then click on his friend’s account… and acci­den­tally like a photo from 56 weeks ago. And you’ve spent thirty minutes doing that instead of your paper.

This downward spiral could have easily been avoided had you either turned your phone off or given it to a friend for the time being. It’s like the old adage- out of sight, out of mind. You will be much less likely to check your phone if you set it some­where out of your imme­diate reach. Cell phones and social media are the biggest time-stealers. Dis­tance yourself from them. Don’t stalk the cute boy’s account. Just get your work done.

Motivate and reward yourself

Pre­venting pro­cras­ti­nation comes down to your ability to motivate yourself to com­plete your respon­si­bil­ities. Of course, we would all rather do any­thing other than write the paper that is due tomorrow. But do you really want to pull another all-nighter and work with a sleep-deprived mind? Or would you rather write a paper with a clear mind and get a good night’s sleep (and likely a better grade)?

Find those things that motivate you, and use them as rewards for when you accom­plish a task. Do you have a favorite study snack? (Mine is Cheddar Chex Mix!) Eat one piece of it for each page you read or para­graph you write. Do you really want to go out and have fun with your best friends? Chal­lenge yourself by holding that off until you com­plete your assign­ments. Use your favorite things as rewards to motivate yourself to do things that may not be your favorite.

Having an enjoyable semester relies on your ability to plan ahead, avoid dis­trac­tions, and motivate yourself. Bal­ancing time between the fun things and the not-so-fun things can help to both boost your GPA and reduce pro­cras­ti­nation. Have a fun and pro­ductive semester!