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10 Great Essay Writing Tips
Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses. Impress your professors with your knowledge and skill by using these great essay writing tips.
Prepare to Answer the Question
Most college essays ask you to answer a question or synthesize information you learned in class. Review notes you have from lectures, read the recommended texts and make sure you understand the topic. You should refer to these sources in your essay.
Plan Your Essay
Many students see planning as a waste of time, but it actually saves you time. Take a few minutes to think about the topic and what you want to say about it. You can write an outline, draw a chart or use a graphic organizer to arrange your ideas. This gives you a chance to spot problems in your ideas before you spend time writing out the paragraphs.
Choose a Writing Method That Feels Comfortable
You might have to type your essay before turning it in, but that doesn’t mean you have to write it that way. Some people find it easy to write out their ideas by hand. Others prefer typing in a word processor where they can erase and rewrite as needed. Find the one that works best for you and stick with it.
View It as a Conversation
Writing is a form of communication, so think of your essay as a conversation between you and the reader. Think about your response to the source material and the topic. Decide what you want to tell the reader about the topic. Then, stay focused on your response as you write.
Provide the Context in the Introduction
If you look at an example of an essay introduction, you’ll see that the best essays give the reader a context. Think of how you introduce two people to each other. You share the details you think they will find most interesting. Do this in your essay by stating what it’s about and then telling readers what the issue is.
Explain What Needs to be Explained
Sometimes you have to explain concepts or define words to help the reader understand your viewpoint. You also have to explain the reasoning behind your ideas. For example, it’s not enough to write that your greatest achievement is running an ultra marathon. You might need to define ultra marathon and explain why finishing the race is such an accomplishment.
Answer All the Questions
After you finish writing the first draft of your essay, make sure you’ve answered all the questions you were supposed to answer. For example, essays in compare and contrast format should show the similarities and differences between ideas, objects or events. If you’re writing about a significant achievement, describe what you did and how it affected you.
Stay Focused as You Write
Writing requires concentration. Find a place where you have few distractions and give yourself time to write without interruptions. Don’t wait until the night before the essay is due to start working on it.
Read the Essay Aloud to Proofread
When you finish writing your essay, read it aloud. You can do this by yourself or ask someone to listen to you read it. You’ll notice places where the ideas don’t make sense, and your listener can give you feedback about your ideas.
Avoid Filling the Page with Words
A great essay does more than follow an essay layout. It has something to say. Sometimes students panic and write everything they know about a topic or summarize everything in the source material. Your job as a writer is to show why this information is important.
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The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. —Mary Heaton Vorse
What this handout is about
This handout will help you understand why you procrastinate and offer strategies to combat this common writer’s ailment.
Everyone procrastinates. We put things off because we don’t want to do them, or because we have too many other things on our plates. Putting things off—big or small—is part of being human. If you are reading this handout, however, it is likely that your procrastination is troubling you. You suspect that you could be a much better writer if only you didn’t put off writing projects until the last minute. You find that just when you have really gotten going on a paper, it’s time to turn it in; so, you never really have time to revise or proofread carefully. You love the rush of adrenaline you get when you finish a paper ten minutes before it’s due, but you (and your body) are getting tired of pulling all-nighters. You feel okay about procrastinating while in college, but you worry that this habit will follow you into your working life.
You can tell whether or not you need to do something about your procrastination by examining its consequences. Procrastination can have external consequences (you get a zero on the paper because you never turned it in) or internal consequences (you feel anxious much of the time, even when you are doing something that you enjoy). If you put off washing the dishes, but the dishes don’t bother you, who cares? When your procrastination leaves you feeling discouraged and overburdened, however, it is time to take action.
Is there hope?
If you think you are a hopeless procrastinator, take heart! No one is beyond help. The fact that you procrastinate does not mean that you are inherently lazy or inefficient. Your procrastination is not an untamable beast. It is a habit that has some specific origin, and it is a habit that you can overcome. This handout will help you begin to understand why you procrastinate and give you some strategies for turning things around. For most procrastinators, however, there are no quick fixes. You aren’t going to wake up tomorrow and never procrastinate again. But you might wake up tomorrow and do one or two simple things that will help you finish that draft a little earlier or with less stress.
You may not be surprised to learn that procrastinators tend to be self-critical. So, as you consider your procrastination and struggle to develop different work habits, try to be gentle with yourself. Punishing yourself every time you realize you have put something off won’t help you change. Rewarding yourself when you make progress will.
If you don’t care why you procrastinate—you just want to know what to do about it—then you might as well skip the next section of this handout and go right to the section labeled “What to do about it.” If you skip to the strategies, however, you may only end up more frustrated. Taking the time to learn about why you procrastinate may help you avoid the cycle whereby you swear up and down that you will never procrastinate again, only to find that the next time you have a paper due, you are up until 3 a.m. trying to complete the first (and only) draft—without knowing why or how you got there.
Why we do it
In order to stop putting off your writing assignments, it is important to understand why you tend to do so in the first place. Some of the reasons that people procrastinate include the following:
Because we are afraid
- Fear of failure: If you are scared that a particular piece of writing isn’t going to turn out well, then you may avoid working on it in order to avoid feeling the fear.
- Fear of success: Some procrastinators (the author of this handout included) fear that if they start working at their full capacity, they will turn into workaholics. Since we procrastinate compulsively, we assume that we will also write compulsively; we envision ourselves locked in a library carrel, hunched over the computer, barely eating and sleeping and never seeing friends or going out. The procrastinator who fears success may also assume that if they work too hard, they will become mean and cold to the people around them, thus losing their capacity to be friendly and to have fun. Finally, this type of procrastinator may think that if they stop procrastinating, then they will start writing better, which will increase other people’s expectations, thus ultimately increasing the amount of pressure they experience.
- Fear of losing autonomy: Some people delay writing projects as a way of maintaining their independence. When they receive a writing assignment, they procrastinate as a way of saying, “You can’t make me do this. I am my own person.” Procrastinating helps them feel more in control of situations (such as college) in which they believe that other people have authority.
- Fear of being alone: Other writers procrastinate because they want to feel constantly connected to other people. For instance, you may procrastinate until you are in such a bind that someone has to come and rescue you. Procrastination therefore ensures that other people will be involved in your life. You may also put off writing because you don’t want to be alone, and writing is oftentimes a solitary activity. In its worst form, procrastination itself can become a companion, constantly reminding you of all that you have to do.
- Fear of attachment: Rather than fearing separation, some people procrastinate in order to create a barrier between themselves and others. They may delay in order to create chaos in their lives, believing that the chaos will keep other people away.
Whether these fears appear in our conscious or subconscious minds, they paralyze us and keep us from taking action, until discomfort and anxiety overwhelms us and forces us to either a) get the piece of writing done or b) give up. (The preceding is a summary of Chapters 2-4 of Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen’s Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It.)
Because we expect ourselves to be perfect
Procrastination and perfectionism often go hand in hand. Perfectionists tend to procrastinate because they expect so much of themselves, and they are scared about whether or not they can meet those high standards. Perfectionists sometimes think that it is better to give a half-hearted effort and maintain the belief that they could have written a great paper, than to give a full effort and risk writing a mediocre paper. Procrastinating guarantees failure, but it helps perfectionists maintain their belief that they could have excelled if they had tried harder. Another pitfall for perfectionists is that they tend to ignore progress toward a goal. As long as the writing project is incomplete, they feel as though they aren’t getting anywhere, rather than recognizing that each paragraph moves them closer to a finished product.
Because we don’t like our writing
You may procrastinate on writing because you don’t like to re-read what you have written; you hate writing a first draft and then being forced to evaluate it, in all its imperfection. By procrastinating, you ensure that you don’t have time to read over your work, thus avoiding that uncomfortable moment.
Because we’re too busy
Practical concerns: jobs, other classes, etc.
Because it works
Unfortunately, procrastination helps reinforce itself. When we avoid doing something we dread (like writing) by doing something we enjoy (such as watching TV, hanging out with friends, etc.), we escape the dreaded task. Given such a choice, it’s no wonder that many of us choose to procrastinate. When we write a paper at the last minute and still manage to get a good grade, we feel all the more compelled to procrastinate next time around.
What to do about it
Now that you know a little bit about why you may have procrastinated in the past, let’s explore some of the strategies you might use to combat your procrastination tendencies, now and in the future. Experiment with whichever of these strategies appeals to you; if you try something and it doesn’t work, try something else! Be patient; improvement will come with practice.
Take an inventory
Figuring out exactly when and how you procrastinate can help you stop the behavior. It can be difficult to tell when you are procrastinating. Think about the clues that tell you that’s what you’re doing: for example, a nagging voice in your head, a visual image of what you are avoiding or the consequences of not doing it, physical ailments (stomach tightness, headaches, muscle tension), inability to concentrate, inability to enjoy what you are doing.
How do you procrastinate?
- Try to ignore the task, hoping against hope that it will go away?
- Over- or under-estimate the degree of difficulty that the task involves?
- Minimize the impact that your performance now may have on your future?
- Substitute something important for something really important? (For example, cleaning instead of writing your paper.)
- Let a short break become a long one, or an evening in which you do no work at all? (For example, claiming that you are going to watch TV for ½ hour, then watching it all night.)
- Focus on one part of the task, at the expense of the rest? (For example, keep working on the introduction, while putting off writing the body and conclusion).
- Spend too much time researching or choosing a topic
Once you better understand how you procrastinate, you will be better able to catch yourself doing it. Too often, we don’t even realize that we are procrastinating—until it’s too late.
Create a productive environment
If you have made the decision to stop delaying on a particular writing project, it is critical that you find a place to work where you have at least half a chance of actually getting some writing done. Your dorm room may not be the place where you are most productive. Ditto the computer lab. If you have a laptop computer, try going someplace where you can’t connect to the Internet (e-mail and the Web are the bane of the procrastinator’s existence—as you probably already know). If you are a procrastinator, then chances are you are already pretty exasperated; don’t risk frustrating yourself even more by trying to write in an environment that doesn’t meet your needs.
CAUTION: The most skilled procrastinators will be tempted to take this suggestion too far, spending an inordinate amount of time “creating a productive environment” (cleaning, filing, etc.) and not nearly enough time actually writing. Don’t fall into that trap! While cleaning and filing are indeed worthy and necessary activities, if you only do this when you have an approaching writing deadline, then you are procrastinating.
While you are thinking about where to write, consider also when you will write. When are you most alert? Is it at 8 a.m., mid-morning, mid-afternoon, early evening, or late at night? Try to schedule writing time when you know you will be at your best. Don’t worry about when you “should” be able to write; just focus on when you are able to write.
Challenge your myths
In order to break the procrastination habit, we need to get past the idea that in order to write, we must have all the information pertaining to the topic, and we must have optimal writing conditions. In reality, writers never have all the information, and conditions are never optimal.
Think of a writing project that you are currently putting off. On one side of a piece of paper, write down all the reasons for your delay. On the other side, argue (as convincingly as possible!) against the delay.
Myth #1: “I can’t function in a messy environment. I can’t possibly write this paper until I have cleaned my apartment.”
Challenge: There are no conditions that are necessary in order for you to write, save two: 1) You must have a writing implement (e.g., a keyboard or a pen) and 2) you must have someplace for writing to go, such as into a computer or onto a piece of paper. If, when faced with a writing project, you start piling up prerequisites for all the things you must do before you can possibly start writing, consider whether you might in fact be making excuses—in other words, procrastinating.
Myth #2: “I know it’s time for me to start writing, but I just haven’t done enough research yet. I’ll spend one more night at the library, and then I’ll start writing my paper.”
Challenge: Truth be told, you will never collect all the information you possibly could for your paper. Better to write a tightly-crafted argument with the information you have NOW, AT THIS VERY MOMENT, than to keep doing research and risk throwing your paper together at the last minute.
Myth #3: “I do my best work under pressure.”
Challenge: There are lots of other ways to create pressure for yourself, besides waiting until the night before the paper is due to start writing it. You can set a time limit for yourself—for example, “I will write this paragraph in ½ hour”—or you can pretend that the paper is a timed essay exam. If you do this a week or two before the paper is due, you’ll have a draft in plenty of time to revise and edit it.
Myth #4: “In order to work on my paper, I must have six uninterrupted hours.”
Challenge: You can and should work on a paper in one hour blocks (or shorter). This will help you break the writing task down into smaller pieces, thereby making it seem more manageable. If you know that you can work on one part of the paper for one hour, then it won’t seem so daunting, and you will be less likely to procrastinate.
Some writers find, however, that they do need longer blocks of time in order to really produce anything. Therefore, like all of the strategies outlined here, if this one doesn’t work for you, throw it out and try something else. You might still find, however, that you are more productive when you plan to write “all morning” rather than “all day.”
Myth #5 : “What I write has to be perfect, ” AND/OR “I can’t write anything until I have a perfect thesis statement/intro.”
Challenge: A first draft (or a second, or a third, or even—egad!—the final product) does not have to be perfect. When we write an early draft, we need to turn off our internal critic and just get some words down on the page. The great thing about starting early on a writing project is that it leaves us plenty of time for revision, editing, and proofreading; so, we can set ourselves free to just let our writing flow, without worrying about sentence-level concerns such as grammar, punctuation, and style. You’ll find some other thoughts on editing in our video on proofreading and our handout on revision .
Break it down
The day you get the paper assignment (ideally), or shortly thereafter, break the writing assignment up into the smallest possible chunks. By doing this, the paper never has a chance to take on gargantuan proportions in your mind. You can say to yourself, “Right now, I’m going to write the introduction. That’s all, just the introduction!” And you may be more likely to sit down and do that, than you will to sit down and “write the paper.”
Get a new attitude
We shoot ourselves in the foot, to begin with, by telling ourselves how horrible a particular writing assignment is. Changing our attitude toward the task, when possible, may go a long way toward keeping us from procrastinating. Tell yourself that the task isn’t so bad or difficult, that you either know how to do it, or that you can learn how while you’re doing it. You may find, too, that if you start early on a particular assignment, your attitude never has a chance to get very negative in the first place! Simply starting to write can often help us feel more positive about writing.
Ask for help
- Get an anti-procrastination coach. If you are really determined not to procrastinate, then get help from the supportive people in your life. Tell someone about your writing goal and timeline, and ask them to help you determine whether or not your plan is realistic. Once or twice a week, email with a friend, relative, or mentor, in order to report (admit?) on your progress, and declare your promise for the next week (or few days). If, despite your very good intentions, you start procrastinating again, do not think, “All is lost!” Instead, talk to someone about it. They may be able to help you put your slip into perspective and get back on track.
- Get a buddy. See if you can find a friend to work alongside you. They don’t have to be writing a paper; in fact, they can be playing Solitaire, for all you care. What matters is that you arrange to meet them at the library (or wherever you have decided to write) at a particular time and stay there for a specific period of time, thus creating accountability.
- Get help with your writing. If you are procrastinating because you think you are a weak writer, then ask someone (a Writing Center writing coach, a current or former professor or teaching assistant, a friend) to help you improve.
- Form a writing group. A writing group is a great way for undergraduate and more advanced writers alike to create accountability, get feedback, and simply get reminded that you are not alone in the struggle to produce and to improve your writing. See our writing group packet at for more information on how to form and sustain a writing group. Dissertation writers may benefit not only from joining a writing group but also from reading our handout on the dissertation . This handout was written by a former Writing Center staff member who eventually completed her dissertation.
Sometimes, we procrastinate because we feel stuck on a particular essay or section of an essay. If this happens, you have several options:
- Turn off the screen. Type with a dark screen, so you can’t see what you’ve written, decide you don’t like it, and delete it immediately. Sometimes procrastination stems from insecurity about what to say, or whether we have anything to say. The important thing, in that case, is to get started and KEEP GOING. Turning off the screen may help lessen your fear and turn off your internal critic. When you turn it back on (or print out what you’ve written), you may find that you do have something to say, after all.
- Write about writing. Take 15 minutes and write a letter to yourself about why you don’t want to write this. This lets you vent your frustrations and anxieties. Then, Take 15 minutes and write about what you could do to get unstuck. You can also try writing about what you’re going to write, making an initial assessment of the assignment. You won’t have the pressure of writing an actual draft, but you will be able to get something down on paper.
- Write the easiest part first. You don’t have to start at the beginning. Whatever section you can do, do it! If you think that’s wimpy, and you would rather do the hardest part first so that you can get it out of the way, that’s fine—whatever works for you. If you start writing and you get stuck, write about why you’re stuck.
- Talk it out. Try tape-recording yourself speaking the ideas you want to include in the paper, and then transcribe the tape.
Make yourself accountable
Set a writing deadline (other than the paper’s due date) for yourself by making an appointment at the Writing Center or telling your TA (or a former TA) that you’re going to give them a draft on such-and-such a date. If you make your Writing Center appointment for several days before the paper is due, then you may be motivated to have a draft finished. Or set an earlier appointment at the Writing Center to have a conversation about your plans for the draft. Talking out your ideas with someone will help you get them organized for subsequent writing.
Leave your work out
Keeping your work (books, notes, articles, etc.) physically out, in full view, gives you a reminder that you are in the middle of the paper, or that you need to start. Also, if you write in more than one shift, it can be helpful to leave off in the middle of a paragraph and leave your ‘tools’ where they are. When you return to the paper, you’ll be able to “warm up” by finishing that paragraph. Starting a new section cold may be more difficult.
Work on improving your writing when you don’t have a deadline
Investigate your writing process. First of all, you may not think you have a thing called a “writing process.” But you do—everyone does. Describe your writing process in detail.
- When do I usually start on a paper?
- What tools do I need (or think I need) in order to write?
- Where do I write?
- Do I like quiet or noise when I write?
- How long a block of time do I need?
- What do I do before I start?
- What do I do at the end?
- How do I feel at the end (after I have turned it in)?
Then ask yourself:
- What do I like about my writing process?
- What do I want to change?
Once you can see your writing process, then you can make a decision to change it. But take it easy with this—only work on one part at a time. Otherwise, you’ll get overwhelmed and frustrated—and we all know where that leads, straight down the procrastination road.
Evaluate your writing’s strengths and weaknesses
If you aren’t ready to evaluate your writing process completely (and it’s okay if you aren’t), then you could try just listing your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. For instance, perhaps you are great at creating thesis statements, but you have trouble developing arguments. Or, your papers are very well-organized, but your thesis and argument tend to fall a little flat. Identifying these issues will help you do two things: 1) When you write, you can play to your strength; and 2) You can choose one weakness and do something about it when you DON’T have a deadline.
Now, doing anything when you don’t have a deadline may sound strange to a procrastinator, but bear with me. Let’s say you’ve decided that your writing is too wordy, and you want to work on being more concise. So, some time when you don’t have a paper—but you do have a free hour—you waltz into the Writing Center and tell your tutor, “Hey, I want learn to how to write more clearly.” You confer, and you come away with some simple strategies for eliminating wordiness.
Here is why this may make a difference the next time you write a paper, regardless of whether or not you have procrastinated (again!): You print out your draft. It’s 1 a.m. You go to bed. The next morning, you read over your paper (it’s due at noon). You say to yourself, “Hmmm, I notice I’m being too wordy.” BUT, rather than concluding, “Oh, well, it’s too late, there isn’t anything I can do about that,” (as you may have in the past), you can choose to employ some of what you learned (previously, when you weren’t under the gun) to make your writing more concise. You edit the paper accordingly. You turn it in.
When your instructor hands the papers back the following week, there are far fewer instances of “awkward,” “unclear,” etc. in the margins. Voila! You’ve made a positive change in your writing process!
What does this have to do with procrastination? Well, making one small change in your writing process creates momentum. You begin to feel more positive about your writing. You begin to be less intimidated by writing assignments. And—eventually—you start them earlier, because they just aren’t as big a deal as they used to be.
Evaluating the strengths and weaknesses in your writing gives you a sense of control. Your writing problems are solvable problems. Working on your writing when you don’t have a deadline helps you gain insight and momentum. Soon, writing becomes something that, while you may not look forward to it, you don’t dread quite as much. Thus, you don’t procrastinate quite as much.
This strategy also accounts for the fact that if you perceive procrastination as having been successful for you in the past, you aren’t going to give it up right away
Hone your proofreading and editing skills
If you procrastinate on writing because you don’t like to re-read what you have written, the good news is this: you can learn specific proofreading , revising , and editing strategies. If you finish your paper ahead of time, and you re-read it, and you don’t like it, you have options. Writing a first draft that you don’t like doesn’t mean you’re a terrible writer. Many writers—in fact, I would venture to say most—hate their first drafts. Neither Leo Tolstoy nor Toni Morrison produce(d) brilliant prose the first time around. In fact, Morrison (a big fan of revision) said recently that you don’t have to love your writing just because you wrote it! If you practice some revision and editing strategies, you may feel more comfortable with the idea of re-reading your papers. You’ll know that if you find weaknesses in the draft (and you will), you can do something to improve those areas.
Learn how to tell time
One of the best ways to combat procrastination is to develop a more realistic understanding of time. Procrastinators’ views of time tend to be fairly unrealistic. “This paper is only going to take me about five hours to write,” you think. “Therefore, I don’t need to start on it until the night before.” What you may be forgetting, however, is that our time is often filled with more activities than we realize. On the night in question, for instance, let’s say you go to the gym at 4:45 p.m. You work out (1 hour), take a shower and dress (30 minutes), eat dinner (45 minutes), and go to a sorority meeting (1 hour). By the time you get back to your dorm room to begin work on the paper, it is already 8:00 p.m. But now you need to check your email and return a couple of phone calls. It’s 8:30 p.m. before you finally sit down to write the paper. If the paper does indeed take five hours to write, you will be up until 1:30 in the morning—and that doesn’t include the time that you will inevitably spend watching TV.
And, as it turns out, it takes about five hours to write a first draft of the essay. You have forgotten to allow time for revision, editing, and proofreading. You get the paper done and turn it in the next morning. But you know it isn’t your best work, and you are pretty tired from the late night, and so you make yourself a promise: “Next time, I’ll start early!”
Make an unschedule
The next time you have a writing deadline, try using an unschedule to outline a realistic plan for when you will write. An unschedule is a weekly calendar of all the ways in which your time is already accounted for. When you make an unschedule, you consider not only your timed commitments such as classes and meetings, but also your untimed activities such as meals, exercise, errands, laundry, time with friends and family, and the like. It is not a list of what you should do in a given week; rather it is an outline of the time that you will necessarily spend doing other things besides writing.
Once you have made your unschedule, take a look at the blank spaces. These represent the maximum number of hours that you could potentially spend writing. By starting with these blank spaces as a guide, you will be able to more accurately predict how much time you will be able to write on any given day. You may be able to see, for instance, that you really don’t have five hours to spend writing on the night before the paper is due. By planning accordingly, you will not only get a better night’s sleep, you may also end up with a better paper!
The unschedule might also be a good way to get started on a larger writing project, such as a term paper or an honors thesis. You may think that you have “all semester” to get the writing done, but if you really sit down and map out how much time you have available to write on a daily and weekly basis, you will see that you need to get started sooner, rather than later. In addition, the unschedule may reveal especially busy weeks or months, which will help you budget time for long-term projects.
Perhaps most importantly, the unschedule can help you examine how you spend your time. You may be surprised at how much (or how little) time you spend watching television, and decide to make a change. It’s especially important that you build time for fun activities into your unschedule. Otherwise, you will procrastinate in order to steal time for relaxation.
You can also use the unschedule to record your progress towards your goal. Each time you work on your paper, for example, mark it on the unschedule. One of the most important things you can do to kick the procrastination habit is to reward yourself when you write something, even if (especially if) that writing is only a little piece of the whole. Seeing your success on paper will help reinforce the productive behavior, and you will feel more motivated to write later in the day or week.
Set a time limit
Okay, so maybe one of the reasons you procrastinate on writing projects is that you just plain hate writing! You would rather be at the dentist than sitting in front of your computer with a blank Microsoft Word document staring you in the face. In that case, it may be helpful to set limits on how much time you will spend writing before you do something else. While the notation “Must work on Hemingway essay all weekend” may not inspire you to sit down and write, “Worked on Hemingway essay for ½ hour” just might. Or, if you tell yourself that you will write “all weekend,” for instance, the sheer agony of the thought may keep you from doing any writing at all. If, however, you say that you will write for two hours on Saturday afternoon, you may actually accomplish something. The important thing here is to keep your commitment to yourself. Even if, at the end of the two hours, you think you could keep going, stop. Go outside and enjoy the weather. Your procrastinating self needs to be able to trust your new non-procrastinating self the next time you say you will only write for a certain amount of time. If you go overboard this time, then the next time you say, “I’ll write for two hours and then stop,” the procrastinator within will respond, “Yeah, right! I’m going rollerblading!”
On the other hand, it may work better for you to trick yourself into working on your paper by telling yourself you’re only going to write for two hours, but then continuing to work if you’re feeling inspired. Experiment with both approaches and see which one seems to work best for you.
Be realistic about how long it takes you to write
Procrastinators tend to be heroic about time; they estimate that it will take them two hours to complete a task that would take most people four. Once you have determined that procrastination is hurting your writing, begin taking notice of how long it actually takes you to write. Many students have a “page an hour” rule. Perhaps you can write a page in an hour if you are totally rested, fed, and focused, your roommate isn’t home, and the wind is blowing just right. But what if the phone rings, what if you are tired, and what if you have to go to the bathroom? When you estimate how long it will take you to write something, expect that there will be interruptions along the way.
As you explore why you procrastinate and experiment with strategies for working differently, don’t expect overnight transformation. You developed the procrastination habit over a long period of time; you aren’t going to stop magically. But you can change the behavior, bit by bit. If you stop punishing yourself when you procrastinate and start rewarding yourself for your small successes, you will eventually develop new writing habits. And you will get a lot more sleep.
We consulted these works while writing this handout. This is not a comprehensive list of resources on the handout’s topic, and we encourage you to do your own research to find additional publications. Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial . We revise these tips periodically and welcome feedback.
Burka, Jane M., and Lenora M. Yuen. 1983. Procrastination: Why You Do It, What to Do About It Now . Boston: Addison-Wesley Publishing.
Ellis, Albert, and William J. Knaus. 1977. Overcoming Procrastination . New York: Signet.
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- Procrastination Essay
Essay on Procrastination
Have you ever postponed your homework until the last minute? Or maybe you studied for a test the day before?
Maybe it's too late to write a story until the last hour? We are all guilty of delaying jobs and postponing important work until the latest date. This is actually procrastination. It is the act of deliberately delaying any task or activity. In this case, we will look at the causes and solutions to this problem.
As we shall see in this article, this is not a coincidence. Almost everyone is guilty of it at some point in their lives. So we ask ourselves this question - why do people procrastinate or are so busy all the time?
We live in the 21st century when time is of the essence. However, we are wasting our precious resources by wasting our time.
Saint Kabir had advised: what you have to do tomorrow, do today; what you have to do today, do it now. Procrastination is the habit of delaying a task or an activity until a later date. The habit of procrastinating the doing things is one of the worst habits of a person. People tend to be slothful to put off the finishing of a piece of work, implementation of a plan till another time. Life is not certain and it is possible that circumstances may change and one may not be able to do the work at all. It is good to procrastinate on things that are bad, but we are right and what we have decided to do, we must do in time.
Reasons for Procrastinating
One of the major reasons for procrastinating on a task is slothfulness. When a person is indulged in luxuries and slothfulness, it will blunt his edge of urge for action. When a person starts fearing the outcome of the task, he tends to procrastinate the task for a later date. Other factors for procrastinating work for a later date are low self-esteem, weak determination, less focus and distraction and also high impulsiveness.
Procrastination is Harmful
Procrastination is harmful in various ways. It maintains tension in mind. It will relieve you of this tension if you do the work right now. Putting off work till another time more often may keep us deprived of the benefits, which might have accrued to us from its having been done. Opportunity knocks at the door once. Opportunity lost once is lost forever. There is no guarantee that the circumstances will remain the same. They may change and you may have to repent later on over the fact that you missed the opportunity. Sometimes it may prove tragic and change the good side of your career to a bad one.
A successful man is one who strikes the iron while it is hot. When procrastination becomes a habit, all cheerfulness and carefree living go out of life and we live a life of perpetual tension, which indeed is not a life worth living at all. While procrastination is harmful to individuals, it may be more harmful to groups, communities and nations.
We must ask ourselves whether we do actually realise the dangers emanating from procrastination and, therefore, shun it. We will perhaps find the answer in the affirmative as well as in the negative. We are still procrastinating steps for development in certain sectors of our life. For example, we have been sadly procrastinating in the educational sector. Even after more than five decades of economic planning, we find half of our population illiterate. We have taken steps to eradicate illiteracy, but our steps are not fast enough.
We have been procrastinating developing certain geographical regions of the country with the result that there are evident regional imbalances in terms of development. We have not yet been able to connect every village of India with a link road. This was the task of utmost importance, a task that ought to have been given priority in any scheme of development. Our pace of development could have been faster if proper planning and implementation had been done at the right time.
While procrastination is regarded as a bad habit, undue hurry or haste is equally a bad tendency. Promptness of action is advisable, but an impulsive decision is fraught with undesirable consequences. One must not delay or procrastinate in arriving at a decision in crucial matters, but unless a well-thought-out decision has been taken, it is more often than not risky to convert into action. Decisions taken in a hurry or haste without cool and calculated deliberation are likely to lead one into blind alleys or unfathomed troughs which it is difficult to get out from. The golden rule is first to get satisfied with the correct decision. Action should immediately follow the correct decision. Action should immediately follow the correct decision. Evil actions contemplated as a consequence of anger, revenge, greed, larceny, lust should be put off as indefinitely as possible till they die their natural death.
How to Avoid Procrastinating?
There are a few tips to curb the habit of procrastination.
We must shake off slothfulness altogether. One must be up and doing. Avoid indulgence in luxuries because this makes one blunt.
Value of Time:
Understanding the value of time is very important. Nothing great can be expected from one who does not understand the value of a minute, for seconds and minutes make an hour, a day, a month, a year and the whole life itself. If the value of a minute is descended deep into our mind and heart, sloth will disappear.
Idleness is fatiguing. One must, therefore oneself engage in some useful work like some household chores other than one's main occupation.
To ward off procrastination, one must plan one's work. Detailed planning is necessary. The entire gamut of work may be divided into fragments and time fixed for completing each fragment will facilitate satisfaction and invigorating. What we must have to do right from the time we get up from bed down to the time we go to bed must be clear to us and we must stick to it religiously.
One may arrange the array of work in order of priorities. How many things are to be done and in what order of priority they must be taken — once this is planned in advance, then most of the battle is won and we can get out of the habit of procrastinating tasks.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
Reasons for postponing a person may vary. It depends on the individual and the situation-to-situation. However, there are international reasons why people delay their activities and actions.
One of the most important things is the fear of failure. When a person is slow to perform an important task or is not interested in completing it, the cause may be a deep fear of failure. It is human nature to avoid and fear failure. So by choosing not to complete the task, we can also avoid the consequences.
Another reason is a lack of focus and determination. Feelings of indifference and insecurity can often cause people to lose their will to do their jobs.
This leads to self-control. Sometimes a lack of goals and objectives is also a reason for a person to lose focus. With no goal in mind, they end up wasting energy on other useless activities.
There are other reasons a person may tolerate it. At times, a person may be a perfectionist. This distracts them from other activities. And then there are other reasons like laziness, low energy levels, easy distractions, etc.
How Can You Stop Procrastination?
Although procrastination is a normal part of life for us, it can be extremely difficult to do so. Procrastination can ruin your life and cause you to lose control of your schedules and deadlines. So when procrastination fades, you need to be in control and in control.
One way to stop procrastinating is to turn a dreadful task into smaller steps. If a task or task is too difficult, we often put it off. But if the work is depleted, then we can deal with it one step at a time without frustration. You can also create a detailed timetable or timeline of some sort to help you with the steps.
Sometimes a change in the work environment can be beneficial. It can give you the energy you need to stop procrastinating and complete the task. If possible, get a friend or parent to check your progress. It helps keep motivation levels up and encourages you to complete the task on time.
The key is not to become too preoccupied with the mundane things of life. We are all victims of procrastination. As long as it doesn't interfere with your entire system, take a break and go back to work!
Short Essay on Procrastination
Procrastination is not a rare thing; nine out of ten people, mostly students, nowadays procrastinate their work until the very last moment and it is also realised that they often feel guilty due to continuous postposing of their important work. The reasons for procrastination vary from person to person and situation to situation.
However, some causes are universal and some may have a particular reason to delay their important actions or tasks. The fear of failure stands on the top and another reason why most people procrastinate is lack of motivation.
Everyone needs motivation while starting a new task or action, but due to lack of motivation most, people procrastinate due to the hesitation of performing a new activity plus lack of motivation, while some procrastinate due to laziness, lack of interest and unwillingness to perform any work.
However, the end product of procrastination is always negative, like people start feeling much guilty, less focused, worried about upcoming projects or actions etc.
In conclusion, it should be stated that procrastination is rooted in many causes, such as numerous distractions, lack of motivation, fear of uncertainty and failure, and perfectionism. At the same time, the result stands the same with infinite consequences such as concern for career, studies, health, and personal qualities. Thus, procrastination prevents a person from rising through the ranks, succeeding in training, and developing a personality.
The major difference between a successful person and an unsuccessful person is that while the former put his decisions promptly into action and reaps the fruits, the latter procrastinates, thereby depriving himself of the fruit.
FAQs on Procrastination Essay
1. What is Procrastination really about?
Postponing or procrastination is the act of delaying or postponing activities until the last minute or beyond the deadline. Some researchers describe procrastination as "a form of self-indulgence that is characterised by unreasonable delays in performance despite negative consequences.
2. Why Are We Here?
We postpone activities that we find "difficult, unpleasant, contradictory or just boring or oppressive." If a task seems overwhelming or raises serious concerns, it is usually very easy to avoid it. Another reason people put things off, says Sirois, is lack of confidence.
3. What Are The 4 Types of Retreat?
They say that there are four main types of archetypes to avoid or procrastinate: the perpetrator, the negligent, the excessive, and the person who seeks new things.
4. Is procrastination a mental illness?
Some people spend a lot of time in the monastery until they can finish important daily tasks. They may have a strong desire to stop procrastination but may feel that they will not be able to do so. Delaying yourself is not a diagnosis of mental health. But yes, less control over your mind is a sign of mental illness.
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Procrastination 5 Pages 1295 Words
Habits are things we do continually, over and over again, simply because if we not to do them, would make us uncomfortable. It might be physical or mental. To get rid of these uncomfortable feelings we carry out our habit. However, human is not perfect. Everybody must get their own bad habits, it is just the matter of how big or small they are. If I need to choose one bad habit that affects my daily life significantly, I would say procrastination as my most annoying bad habit. Procrastination means always put off things that need to be done presently. This can be happened on me in various aspects. For example, I always hand in my homework just before the deadline, though I know I need to do that long time ago. When I promise my friends to do something, I usually do not do that immediately. I only do that until my friend remind me once again and again. Sometimes I get late in meetings though I have prepared enough time for myself to get ready. And it is so normal for me to miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts and do not cash the gift certificates or checks. It is a really bad habit because it brings a lot disadvantages. First, I deceive myself things will be alright because I will do that later. Thus it always gives me a false sense of comfort. Besides, it wastes my time because I always postpone doing things. However, I will have to do that anyway so I always end up with doing it while I should be doing something else. This make me stuck and prevent me from keeping up my life, achieving my goal. It is also a sign of laziness which are no good for me. And I always feel emptiness because I always fail to do things what I am supposed to do in a day. How procrastination develop in my life? In 1995, the world's leading expert on procrastination: Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, suggested that there are three basic types of procrastinators. (Ferrari, J...
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Effects Of Procrastination Essay
Effects of Procrastination Bad habits are something people do over and over again, if not the person would feel uncomfortable. One bad habit that can affect someone’s life significantly would be procrastination. According to Cambridge Dictionary, procrastination is “ to delay doing something.” Procrastination happens when someone does not do something that needs to be done at that moment. Everyone procrastinates it does not matter if they’re a kid or an adult everyone can find something more entertaining than their work. Although for some procrastination can be a chronic problem , procrastination is a strong, strange force that keeps them from completing an urgent task. It can be the worst enemy to most people. Procrastinating can be one of the most frustrating habits to overcome but it is possible. It is also …show more content…
In this essay, the author
- Explains that procrastination is a strong, strange force that keeps people from completing an urgent task.
- Explains that people procrastinate because they don't know how to complete a task, perfection gets in the way, and they're afraid of failure. people try to eliminate negative moods and put off their work to feel better.
- Explains that procrastination is a bad habit that can be linked to anxiety, which can cause health issues.
- Explains that to stop procrastinating people first need to realize they are a pro, and then figure out why they're pro. they recommend writing lists of tasks, making deadlines and breaking work into small steps.
- Opines that procrastination has a negative effect on people's work and people themselves. it can be hard, but not impossible to stop.
It can be linked to anxiety , which can cause health issues. When people procrastinate all they are really doing is postponing their work and setting themselves self up for problems. Procrastination causes people to waste their time unnecessarily. People tend to postpone tasks thinking they will have time to do them later when in reality they do not. When people fail to do their work they end up missing the deadline for the task. Procrastination can also ruin someone’s potential, career and mood. By procrastinating people can ruin a reputation or even a job they have. Procrastinating can also make people lose their friends; they will eventually stop getting invited out because they are putting off things making them always late. It can lower self-esteem, people can start to feel bad and start to question what’s wrong with them because they can not complete the task. According to Social Anxiety Institute “The secret here is not to wait until you feel better first you start. You have to make the start first, and then the feelings of accomplishments and competence will follow
- Opines that procrastination is natural among stressed college students, busy teachers, and the common people in the workforce.
- Concludes that procrastination is a natural occurrence in all human beings, considering only 15-20% of adults are chronically affected by it.
- Explains that natural is defined as "living in or as if in a state of nature untouched by the influences of civilization and society."
- Explains that procrastination is the act of putting off or avoiding important tasks by focusing on less important, and mostly easier ones.
- Explains that procrastination is an ancient issue that developed with the emergence of a division of labor and the invention of diversions with which to enact it.
- Concludes that procrastination is normal if our ancestors did it, but it wasn't until after humans discovered ways of living to make their lives more convenient that they found ways to pass the time.
- Opines that procrastination is natural because it was developed by early humans to entertain themselves and expand their brains.
- Argues that teenagers procrastinate because they learn how to at such an early age and are already used to getting away with it without any consequences.
- Explains the six reasons people procrastinate: lack of motivation, skill deficits, and fear of failure.
- Explains that they've had a friend who procrastinates even though she gets a+'s, gets in honor roll, and more.
- Explains gyoerkoe's article, get it done in 2013: how to overcome procrastination, that there are four easy steps in how to overcome it.
- Explains that gyoerkoe, k. (2013) get it done in 2013: how to overcome procrastination. psychology today.
- Explains tim urban's definition of procrastination: the action of delaying or postponing something.
- Opines that procrastination isn't an easy thing to do, but if done right, it has positive effects on the student.
- Opines that procrastinating will help generate greater learning environments and allow you to pass the class.
- Opines that procrastination will improve grades, but overall it will allow you to see the things in life that you couldn't see, once before.
- Opines that procrastination relieves stress, anger, fatigue, and anxiety. the more you declutter, the less sleep deprived you will be. completing assignments late will help you in life.
- Opines that procrastination is a skill, and the average person does their best job on their assignment when they are incredibly sleep deprived.
- Opines that procrastination is a bad habit that messes with them everyday.
- Explains that humans have been procrastinating for centuries. ancient greek philosophers developed a word for this behavioral trait called akrasia.
- Explains that procrastinators tend to value immediate rewards more than future awards, such as writing a three-page essay in one week.
- Opines that procrastination is like a credit card, because there is no due date for what one sets out to accomplish.
- Explains that they have a side to them that wants to seek temporary pleasures while wanting to forget the long-term benefits.
- Analyzes how hamlet was hesitant in fulfilling his duty to avenge his father's death. each observer of the play forms their own opinions as what was believed to be his problem.
- Argues that the most probable reason for hamlet's hesitantness is that he was merely a procrastinator.
- Argues that hamlet is a procrastinator because the reasons for his delays are contradictory, and therefore not valid enough to postpone the killing of claudius.
- Analyzes how hamlet's reluctance to murder claudius was insignificant and should not have stood in his way.
- Argues that hamlet's self accusation of 'bestial oblivion' is to be taken in a literal sense.
- Explains that procrastination is when you have something important to do but put off doing it until the last minute because you simply didn't feel like completing this task.
- Explains that procrastination can lead to stress, anxiety, and mood changes. lack of motivation or focus, feeling overwhelmed and sadness or depression are just some of the ways it can change your mood.
- Explains that procrastination can lead to health conditions like cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
- Explains that procrastinators over-work their brain and remove some processes. they end up "over-learning" when they are learning a lot of material that they will forget.
- Explains that rushing leads to failure, which damages a procrastinator's reputation and lowers self-esteem.
- Opines that procrastination is a habit, and you can either control it and manage your time better or let it take over you slowly.
- Explains that procrastination may harm heart health. skylar anderson is passionate about equipping students to succeed & fulfill their personal missions.
- Explains that procrastination is genetically or biologically inherited, and suggests that individuals have the choice to delay something due to how they feel about it.
- Explains that the mindset of an individual has a major impact on themselves and their procrastination.
- Explains that the fixed mind set/growth mindset concept points to a solution: you can overcome procrastination by shifting your thinking to consider the situation as an opportunity for growth, development or to deepen your talents.
- Explains that establishing a mindset that allows for further growth can have an impact on procrastination.
- Explains that procrastination is a behavioral trait that is made up of other learned traits that lead to the outcome, namely, conscientiousness.
- Opines that self-confidence is a trait that should be learned correctly and developed successfully.
- Explains that many argue that procrastination is natural or genetically developed, but environmental factors and psychological aspects play a greater role in individuals.
- Concludes that procrastination is developed psychologically more than it is inherited genetically. the traits and characteristics extrinsic have the most impact on an individual’s behavior trait.
- Explains that chronic procrastinators avoid revealing information about their abilities, prefer menial tasks, make poor time estimates, focus on the past and do not act on their intentions.
- Explains that the eight developed traits explained by the serendip student in the above quote, have an impact on the characteristics developed by an individual, which then impacts procrastination.
- Explains that procrastination: habit or disorder? serendip.
- Opines that procrastination is hereditary or a product of environment?
- Explains that their goal is to eliminate or decrease the level of procrastination.
- Explains how they decided to make a to-do list or planner of what things need to be done and prioritized from have to do it to.
- Explains that they chose rewards and punishments for reinforcement. the reward was a time-out of their phone or any kind of technology.
- Describes how they started by evaluating how much they complete as usual without applying reinforcements, and then started conditioning. they started with intrinsic reinforcement and used extrinsic reinforcement.
- Explains how procrastinators can be helped by making a to-do list and creating reminders through the day to help with what's needed to get done.
- Suggests that procrastinators try to play a game to see how many tasks they can get done in such amount of time. timing yourself in an assignment will make you want to do it.
- Recommends changing the way you view things in order to get much done. writing down how you use your time on a daily basis will help you overcome procrastination.
- Explains how charles duhigg's the power of habit acknowledges how habits control our daily lives in every decision we make.
- Opines that procrastination led to a lower gpa in high school than they really should have gotten. delaying tasks made it difficult to succeed academically.
- Explains that procrastination affected their long-term goals, but it caused them stress and wasted their time.
- Describes how their desire towards a better future drove them to change. setting long-term goals gave them confidence and motivation to work harder.
- Explains how establishing themselves to charles duhigg's message influenced their understanding of how habits contribute to much of their decision making as well as desire.
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Those unfamiliar with this school of thought may be interested to know that it basically boils down to procrastination is a habit that everyone has. A friend of mine would know, she procrastinated this assignment about procrastination. It agonizing to admit that we all procrastinate especially me. There are times where I would add excessive words so I can sound intelligent. Usually I would try to start writing a paper as something proper. But it doesn’t entertain me like I wanted it to be. It…
Is Procrastination Is Wrong
says that procrastination cannot be wrong because Jesus procrastinated. Jesus did not really procrastinate. Here, he waited those two days for a reason. Since Jesus is God, which the objector clearly states, He has reason for all his actions and does them in the correct time because He always acts in the will of His Father. Some commentators on this verse say that, since Jesus already has cured people before, He waited longer so that He can show His glory as God by raising Lazarus from the dead…
Process and Issues: Miss Waltrip and I, Marissa Scheele, met together today. It was our fourth and final meeting together. Miss Waltrip and I first met in the beginning of the semester when she came to me to discuss some of her issues in dealing with procrastination. Miss Waltrip had been struggling to overcome this problem for many years. She decided that now was the best time to get a handle on it, as she was planning on going off to graduate school. Her number one concern was getting help to…
Dangers Of Procrastination
Have you ever had something very important to do, for example studying for an exam, writing an essay or even getting your homework done, but you couldn’t because you somehow get distracted from doing it? Procrastination is the culprit from getting our things done, we always think of a more fun and pleasurable things to do. We put a hold on the things that is most important. Even Though there is no cure for procrastination you could try some tips and tricks to be on top of yours tasks. There are…
The Importance Of Procrastination In Education
about. The topic that interested me the most was procrastination; the reason being is I am the type of person that procrastinates a lot. I always tend to leave everything to the last minute because I feel that I have enough time to complete that assignment. That is not the outcome many times because at the end I am rushing to get things turned in. In this course Mrs. Suarez told me many ways for me not to end up procrastinating…
Essay On Procrastination In College
Procrastinate in College" Students suffer detrimental consequences for procrastination in college. Most students put off or postpone something that needs to be completed within a designated time, in most cases opting to do something more pleasurable. A few examples of procrastination may be fear of failure, poor time management, or indecisiveness. According to FWU Journal of Social Science, studies indicate that college students many consisting of continued education students as well as high…
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A “who am I” essay is a simple type of open-ended introductory essay. It is used in certain schools, workplaces and around the world to help members of a group introduce themselves through their writing. They are generally about a page long...
Knowing how to write a college essay is a useful skill for anyone who plans to go to college. Most colleges and universities ask you to submit a writing sample with your application. As a student, you’ll also write essays in your courses.
A literary essay is a short, non-fiction composition that covers virtually any literary topic imaginable. Many modern literary essays are quite long with thousands of words.
Also extended amounts of doing this bad habit could help you learn to take
in ½ hour”—or you can pretend that the paper is a timed essay exam.
The habit of procrastinating the doing things is one of the worst habits of a person. People tend to be slothful to put off the finishing of a piece of work
It is a really bad habit because it brings a lot disadvantages. First, I deceive myself things will be alright because I will do that later. Thus it always
Effects of Procrastination Bad habits are something people do over and over again, if not the person would feel uncomfortable. One bad habit that can affect
different types of procrastination and helps the reader prevent the habit of procrastination.
Procrastination, as this phenomenon is known, is considered an educationally unhealthy habit, often resulting in straining tasks such as cramming for important
We do delay our task by putting off crucial work until a later date. This habit is termed as procrastination. The practice or action of
invite you to go skiing, and you decline to stay behind and work on your essay.
priority but other times it can be because of one habit- procrastination.
College students, in particular, have to face this phenomenon regularly. However, some people get into the habit of delaying things that they