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Hannah’s Guide to (less) Procrastination

Hannah explains how to keep working through the mid-term grind, even when things feel busy or overwhelming.

Hannah explains how to keep working through the mid-term grind, even when things feel busy or overwhelming.

It is the fourth week at Carleton which can only mean one thing: the term is starting to get busier as we hurdle towards impending midterms. Though this also means another thing depending on your study habits, for me it means as the workload gets heavier, my desire to procrastinate everything becomes stronger. Now that’s all fine, most college students procrastinate from time to time, but as someone who still struggles with time management skills, here are a couple of things that I use to help me get back on track.

Now you’re going to go through all of these and think, “Hannah, these are all activities that do NOT involve doing work, how can this possibly help you procrastinate less?” Trust me, it does. I’ve just started to realize that when I really want to put off work, it’s usually because I need a mental break. Trying to drag myself through an assignment, reading, or paper when I am feeling burnt out or tired is the worst, so I usually end up getting distracted and doing something else, all the while feeling guilty that I am not working on my to-do list.

I’ve come to learn that if you take intentional breaks and do something that specifically is not school related and uses a different part of your brain, it makes coming back to my assignments that much easier! Carleton is known for being academically rigorous which is incredibly rewarding, but you also need to constantly work on balancing everything. Not only does taking intentional breaks save me from hours worth of procrastination, but it also allows me to be fully present and enjoy the things I want to do with my free time.


For me, frisbee has become a great outlet for stress this term. I adore the people I am around for our 2-hour practices a couple of times a week, and I always find myself in a better mood than when practice started. Let’s hear it for exercise and laughter!

A goofy photo of my friends after practice, taken by my friend Audrey.

Watch Netflix/TV

Okay, so this isn’t a great idea for taking a break, but this term, I often watch a 20-minute episode of New Girl or a couple of SNL skits. Ideally, you do this after your homework is done so that you don’t end up watching more than you should.

Go on a Walk

I love walking during this time of year, especially because the fall colors are so bright here! A little walk around the arb is a great way to refresh your mind.

Fall colors at Carleton!

Take a Nap

Sometimes after a long day or in the middle of the afternoon, you just gotta take a quick power nap. You don’t even have to fall asleep, but just 15 minutes of relaxing (doing this without your phone is key) can help!

Read/Find a Hobby

Before I got to college, I used to fly through books and I spent a lot of my free time reading. But since coming to Carleton, I have found that I have a harder time reading “for fun” when I have readings for my classes to complete. After talking to someone about how to reduce my procrastinating habits, they suggested that I start reading for fun again as a break, so that is something I am trying to pick up this term.

The books I brought to school this term (a mix of my favorites and some on my reading list)!

Spend Time with Friends

This works especially well if you’re doing work with people, but take a study break and catch up with a friend (you can even combine the hangout + walk strategy). I love to talk about my day with my besties when I feel my productivity start to get low, and it’s a great way to make sure you stay in touch with people during your busy schedules.


Chatting in Sayles!

Bonus Tips

  • Prioritize sleep. Sleep is important! Though I often like to tell myself, “you have the whole night to work on this”, staying up into the late hours of the night (and dare I say early morning) isn’t going to be the most beneficial thing in the long run. Telling myself that eight hours of sleep is going to help the rest of the week go even better is good motivation for getting stuff done.
  • Switch things up. When working on one assignment or content for a specific class for a long time, you can start to lose momentum. Use this as an opportunity to work on another class for a bit to change things up. The switch in topic or assignment can help you keep going.
  • Set time limits for how long you’re going to work on something. When I have to study for something, there never seems to be an endpoint, so the idea of studying for an infinite amount of time becomes overwhelming for me when I can’t see the finish line (besides the deadline of the exam of course). If I come up with a plan and decide to commit to studying from 8-10 pm for Latin on Monday for example, it makes it easier to get started and follow through!

In Conclusion…

Whether you’re always on top of your work, or you struggle to get motivated, taking breaks is important! It is okay to make time for things that are just for fun or create time just for you to decompress, and it makes the whole “college thing” that much easier.



Hannah is a sophomore interested in Geology, Political Science, and Classics. Still unsure what she will major in, she likes to spend her time learning as much as she can about whatever she can. Born and raised in Minnesota, she considers herself somewhat of an expert on MN winters. At Carleton, she fills her schedule with writing for the Admissions blog, working as a CCCE Communications Fellow, taking flute lessons, and increasing voter engagement on campus. When Hannah isn’t in class, she can be found tossing a frisbee, thrifting, running for fun, looking at rocks, reading, walking and skiing in the Arb, and hanging out with her besties. Meet the other bloggers!