Courtesy | Pexels

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!