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Tips for students who want to overcome procrastination

Take this quiz to find out if you-or any students in your family-need to get serious about overcoming procrastination:

- Do you put off assignments until the last possible hour because you like to think of yourself as the type of person who works best under pressure?

- Do you write down your priorities before you start projects? Do many things seem unimportant when you look at them in the light of these priorities?

- Do you ask yourself which of several tasks is the most important one before you rush into an assignment?

- Do you concentrate on finishing an assignment when you're in danger of missing a deadline, rather than complaining that you never have enough time to get your work done?

- Do you make sure your friends know when not to disturb you?

- Do you turn off the TV and your phone when you need to work on an important assignment? Do you concentrate completely on what you're doing now, rather than dwelling on what you did in the past?

- When you've done the best you can, are you content to wrap up a project and hand it in as it is?-Do you generally make good estimates of how much time it will take to finish an assignment?

If you answered "no" to any of the above questions but the first one (I hope you answered "no" to that one), you can develop better study habits by getting serious about procrastination. Try doing the hardest assignments first. Sandwich a difficult assignment between two of your favorite ones.

Most students dread writing assignments, putting them off to the last possible minute. Writing is one of the most important skills a student can develop. Here are some tips from great writers that can help you conquer the procrastination monster:

- Winston Churchill wrote about 5 million words in his lifetime. That's the equivalent of ten thousand 500-word articles, so he must have enjoyed writing very much. And he wrote well-well enough to win a Nobel Prize for literature. Churchill once said: "When you're going through Hell, keep going." To paraphrase that advice for all students struggling with a writing assignment: When you don't know what to write, keep writing.

- Don't be a bleeder. (Journalists who agonize over every word they write are known in their profession as "bleeders.") The faster you write, the more you'll enjoy writing. Jack London, one of my favorite writers when I was a student, said that "you can't wait for inspiration; you have to go after it with a club."

- Another Nobel Prize Laureate, John Steinbeck, said: "Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on." In other words, rewriting before you finish a first draft is an excuse for procrastination.


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