2010_03_02_979 nero GWA StocksProcrastination is a common phenomenon that affects people of all ages and walks of life. In students, it often involves putting off studying for a test or waiting until the last minute to complete research for a paper or class project.

While a little procrastination from time to time is normal, chronic procrastination can affect student performance and cause stress and anxiety. The good news is that there are a number of creative ways in which parents (and teachers) can help students manage their time effectively while still taking breaks, even when working on a major project.

GEMS World Academy Chicago, a premier private school, offers a few tips here to help students make the most of their study time and keep procrastination at bay.

GEMS World Academy Chicago, procrastination, studentsMake a daily and weekly schedule

Procrastination can be a natural response to feeling overwhelmed by the scope of a project or task. Encourage students to break assignments and projects up into small, actionable steps that can be taken over time throughout the term.

Take timed breaks

Planned breaks are not only a great way to stay ahead of procrastination, but they are also necessary to help stave off burnout and refresh the eyes (and brain) after long periods of concentration. The key is getting the timing right; 90 minutes of work followed by a 15-minute break is a good rule of thumb, but some students may find that working in hour-long blocks makes more sense. The breaks should be long enough to feel refreshed, but not long enough to get distracted by something else.


Setting aside time for outside activities during exams or a looming project may seem counterintuitive, but even a 10-minute walk or stretching session can help to refresh a tired mind and body.

Avoid junk food

Caffeine and sugar are a common coping strategy for many students, especially those in high school or above, but studies have shown that the short-term energy spikes from junk foods like soda and candy bars will actually hurt the ability to focus and concentrate. Encourage students to stay hydrated with water and eat healthy snacks at regular intervals in order to avoid bingeing on sugar and the crash that inevitably results.

Get an 'accountability buddy'

GEMS World Academy encourages collaboration in the classroom. That idea extends to work outside school, as well. Working together or simply checking in with an "accountability buddy" can help students to stay motivated and weaken the urge to procrastinate or work in a vacuum.

No all-nighters!

According to statistics, American teenagers are chronically sleep deprived, with as many as 90 percent of middle and high school students getting less than five hours of a sleep a night, almost half the recommended amount. Lack of sleep can affect everything from mood to cognition, and it can cause other health problems. The problem becomes compounded with the myth of the "all nighter," a common study and cramming technique. However studies have shown that cramming actually leads to poor performance on exams and assignments. Encourage students to prioritize getting enough rest in order to be productive throughout the entire school year.

Stay flexible and adjust the schedule as needed

Sometimes even the best plans don't work out, and unpredictable factors and problems pop up, making it difficult to stick to a schedule to the letter. Or maybe a study schedule allocates set blocks of time for specific tasks, but some students find that they only need half the time to finish one project and a little more time than expected for a different assignment.

Encourage students to pay attention to the routine that works best and allows them to work productively and complete projects on time. Experiment with different routines and study habits until they find what works best.

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