We all leave things to the last minute. If you start doing it frequently (as in daily, hourly, or by the minute), then you’re probs a procrastinator.

Binge-watching TV shows is the normally cited go-to for the expert procrastinators among us, but in reality, procrastination comes in many forms. Did you spend two hours beautifying your study notes? How long did you spend in Officeworks selecting stationery? Did you really need to research memes today? And what about Facebook? Still open? Maths textbook? Probably closed.

Welcome to the procrastination club, here’s your gold membership! Some of the perks include leaving everything to the last minute, additional stress, late nights, early mornings, and consuming excessive caffeine. On top of that, throw a few disheartening grades into the mix and you’ve been fully inaugurated into this very exclusive community.

Okay, so it’s actually pretty common, and there are many reasons why people procrastinate. Let’s flip those pesky excuses on their head, and turn them into motivation instead. Before you know it, the ‘I can’t be bothered’ will turn into ‘just get started’ and ‘I’ll leave it until tomorrow’ will become ‘there’s no time like the present’.

Let’s begin with the fact that you won’t do it tomorrow. You’ll be telling yourself this until tomorrow becomes the due date. You will literally run out of tomorrows. The solution? Starting small. There’s nothing more terrifying than the prospect of a 2000 word essay to plan, draft, edit and write in the space of a few hours. My best guess is you’ve known about that deadline for two weeks, most likely longer.

Just do it something.

Here’s a new strategy: buy a diary (or two), a wall calendar, a term planner, a whiteboard – whatever you need to visualise all your upcoming assessments and plan them. Make a study schedule, allocate time slots to assessments you know you have coming up, including tests and exams, and once these are accounted for then add in your study – and fun stuff! And once you’ve made your schedule, stick to it. Sure you can allocate time to watching Netflix. But first, plot in a few hours for that essay outline, or to complete a past paper.

Those who plan tend to succeed. If you have a term planner somewhere you can see it (and add to it) easily, you won’t forget about things. Visualisation is everything!

Embrace Failure

As fellow perfectionists will know, this isn’t always easy. But often procrastination comes down to a fear of failure. Well guess what, a case study conducted by yours truly throughout her schooling life demonstrated that the longer you put things off, the less likely you are to get the grades you’re after.

Don’t underestimate how long things take

Things will take more time than you might expect. Maybe the real reason you’ve left that science report to the last minute is because you didn’t realise there was background research involved. Research can and should be extensive and intensive. It doesn’t happen in one night, especially when you consider the 27 hours you need to reference a single article in that obscure format nobody has ever heard of. Keep in mind the timespan of different tasks and plan accordingly. Research takes a lot longer than actual writing, just as reading the textbook is typically faster than doing practice questions.

Feeling motivated yet?

Once you find something that works, stick with it. The motivation will come and go, it’s pretty inevitable. The best possible thing for you to do is face facts. The longer you leave an upcoming assessment, the less inclined you’ll feel to begin. To recap, avoid procrastination by planning in advance, allocating plenty of time to more arduous tasks, and most importantly, embrace failure! In the words of Thomas Edison – doing something imperfectly isn’t a failure; it’s finding 10,000 ways that don’t work.