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Teaching Strategies to Help Students Stop Procrastinating

Janelle Cox

How many times have you told a student to stop procrastinating? Putting off tasks isn’t anything new, teachers have seen this from their students for generations. This isn’t just a bad habit that we see from our students, but putting off tasks can actually hurt them more than they think. According to research, students that tend to procrastinate have higher stress levels and earn lower grades. In fact, students who put tasks off also tend to hand in poor-quality work and suffer from a lower sense of well-being. Students grades’ aren’t the only thing to suffer -- students who procrastinate have to work harder to memorize information. Many students think that by procrastinating , it’s saving them time, when in fact they end up spending more time learning information that they’ll just forget. Luckily, there are teaching strategies you can use to help students stop procrastinating and get their stress under control.  

Teaching Strategies: Keep a Planner and Use it

The first step to having students stop procrastinating is to have them not only keep a planner, but actually use it. Many schools give their students a planner in the beginning of the year, but a lot of students fail to ever use it. One of the best ways to make students use it is to check their planners daily, to make sure they’re writing down important homework and test dates. If you don’t think a tangible planner is the way for your students to go, then try a digital one. My Study Life is just one of the many digital planners that you can find online.

Have students write down not only when their homework is due or when an upcoming test is, but when they will study for it. Scheduling your study time is a great way to avoid procrastinating. Students will be able to see in their planner that if they have a test on Wednesday, they can study for it on Monday and Tuesday after soccer practice.

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Create a “To Do” List

Even though students may keep a planner on when they’ll study and get their work done, they may not know what do when it comes time to actually complete the task. Creating a “To Do” list is a great way for students to visually see what needs to be done. Once they create their list, they should prioritize it. For example, their planner may say, “Finish homework in math and science today, and study for test in history for Wednesday.” They would then prioritize their homework and studying so they know what to do first. Taking a few minutes to write out this information can help can be a great help in avoiding procrastinating.

Limit Distractions

One of the biggest reasons students procrastinate is because they get distracted. Social media and video games are a huge distraction for children. In order to avoid these temptations, they’ll have to learn how to temporarily keep them away from them. In order to complete their task, the first thing a student needs to do is find a place where they won’t be distracted. They need to go to a place that is quiet and has limited distractions. They’ll be less likely to procrastinate then there’s nothing distracting them.

Set Small Goals and Reward Yourself

Many students find that setting goals or creating a motivation for themselves is a great way to avoid procrastination. They need something to help them get by from the monotony of day-to-day life. Have students think of a small goal they’d like to accomplish, and once they achieve their goal, have them receive a reward for completing it. They can also set a daily goal of completing what’s in their planner. Once these tasks are completed, their reward can be to play with their friends, get screen time or eat a dessert of their choosing. The goal is to create a motivation, then get rewarded for completing a task.

Be Accountable for Your Actions

Another great way for students to learn to stop being procrastinators is to learn to be accountable for their actions. For example, you can have students create a goal and to help them be accountable for that goal they must tell everyone about it. They can simply tell a friend, write it down in class and place it on the bulletin board for all to see, or post it on social media. By telling the world your goal, you’re more likely to accomplish it for fear of embarrassment.

In order to truly avoid procrastination, students will need to learn to take small breaks or set an allotted time to work. Keeping themselves motivated and rewarding themselves regularly will also help them avoid putting off tasks. It’ll all be worth it, because no one is ever disappointed in getting a good grade.

What teaching strategies do you use to help your students stop procrastinating? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear what works for your students.


Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.