You know you have to get that paper written. Or finish that math homework. And yet, you can’t seem to stop putting things off – even though delaying these assignments is causing you stress. How can you break this habit and kickstart your momentum?

Prioritize and strategize.

First, take a look at the work you need to do. What is most important to complete first? What can wait a little while? What will be easy? What will be hard? Do you want to tackle the hardest thing first and feel good about getting it done right away? Or do you want to complete the easiest thing first and feel good about making progress quickly? Pick an approach and start.

Get really engaged in your classes.

The more actively you participate in class, the better you will understand the material and the easier it will be to tackle assignments. If you do not fully comprehend the subject, you’ll likely find any reason to avoid beginning the work.

Just start.

You likely have multiple obligations and responsibilities competing for your time. Do your best to clear your calendar so you can do your work uninterrupted, but don’t wait for everything to align and be perfect for you to begin. Dive in and get the momentum started.

Remember why you are doing this.

What are your reasons for being in this program? What are you ultimately trying to achieve? How will you feel when you are done? Use the answers to these questions as fuel to keep you going. It may be helpful to create a visual reminder of your goal. For example, make your screensaver an image that illustrates what you’re working towards or have a picture on your desk that inspires you to stay motivated.

Realize that breaking old habits and starting new ones takes time.

Don’t get discouraged! With practice, you will procrastinate less and less. Each day is a new chance to do better. Replace “I should have started this sooner” with “I will plan ahead better tomorrow.”

This Tips & Tricks column was written by Ivy Tech Indianapolis’ Student Success and Retention Office. Want to have a more successful college experience? Contact the office at Indianapolis

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.