Procrastination during studies: Six simple hacks against procrastination

Who doesn’t prefer putting off unpleasant tasks now and again instead of doing them? The IUBH blog team has developed some strategies on how to defeat your inner procrastinator.


Cleaning your room instead of studying for an upcoming exam, or scrolling through Instagram for hours even though the deadline for your Master’s thesis is inevitably approaching? Most students are familiar with procrastination. After all, the chronic postponement of things that need to get done is deeply human. The good news: You can learn to master your unnecessary avoidance behaviour with our tips and a bit of discipline

Tip 1: First the unpleasant, then the pleasant

Start the day with the most urgent or important task – or with the most unpleasant thing, which has been causing you stomach pain for days. The advantage of this strategy is obvious: Anyone who hits the difficult tasks first reduces their chances for procrastination and can pat themselves on the back for having taken on the biggest hurdle in the morning. A nice side effect is that you feel much more motivated for the easier tasks during the day. But you have to be careful not to make your to-do lists part of your procrastination. Hit the emergency brake when you spend more time colouring your to-do list than finishing your project.

Tip 2: Power booster for more self-motivation

A sense of satisfaction in doing the work can be used to increase your own productivity. Think about how you can make annoying or exhausting to do’s, like studying for an exam, pleasant. By deliberately celebrating breaks or having your own individual reward system, you can increase your intrinsic, that is personal, motivation and performance. If you study or write at home, treat yourself to a power nap, for example. Or you take a walk around the block or a short run. Small breaks in your everyday routine work miracles: A short change of scenery lifts your spirits and helps you concentrate better again.

Tip 3: Tomato bites for better time management

One of the best known and most effective techniques for alternating between being productive and relaxing is the Pomodoro technique. It was invented by the Italian Francesco Cirillo, who uses a tomato-shaped kitchen clock for his working structure. Classically, a Pomodoro cycle takes two and a half hours. It is divided into 25-minute work phases, interrupted by a five-minute break. The method is particularly good for students who can’t see the forest for the trees: Dividing your tasks into manageable, timed sections helps you focus on the essentials.

Tip 4: Getting into the flow with workplace minimalism

On average, it takes 15 minutes for the brain to manoeuvre us into a productive flow state. You can also use this knowledge to your advantage: Eliminating disturbances is a proven way to get yourself into the mood to work. In plain words: Remove popular time-wasters and distractions such as TVs or smartphones from your field of vision. There are also some really stubborn apps like “Offtime” or “Moment” that help you fight against procrastination. You will be rewarded with the uplifting feeling of being fully absorbed in your work and of having accomplished something.

Tip 5: Overcome dry stretches with study coaches or learning buddies

Most procrastinators see the reasons for their own behaviour – be it fear of failure, laziness or the assumption that they can only work productively under time pressure. If you struggle with self-motivation it is worth finding a training partner: Overcoming tough phases together, celebrating successes together and providing updates on intermediate goals in the daily routine of studying give you strength. And a certain “social pressure” creates commitment to others whom we don’t want to disappoint. Important: Find someone who pushes you instead of slows you down, so you don’t stir up any additional frustration. In distance learning, the IUBH also provides you with study coaches who support you with topics such as time management, exam preparation and motivation. Depending on your programme, your study coach gives you tips on learning media at the beginning of your study, defines study goals with you and, at the end of the first module, reflects on which methods are best for you in the long term for studying.

Tip 6: Self-chastising is counter-productive

You should always be aware of the reasons or goals for your studies – and also the successes you have already achieved! Instead of facing the next mammoth task frustrated or alone in your room, we recommend proactive exchange with study advisers, study coaches and fellow students. Attack the task instead of delaying! People who spend too much time worrying about the mountain of work and panicking over approaching deadlines stifle every spark of motivation or productivity. Fortunately, a change of perspective is almost always enough to regain the productivity and enthusiasm you had at the outset.


Have you already found your personal remedy against procrastination, or do you have more tips on how to motivate yourself to get to work? Share them with us.


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