What's going on? You don't feel like working. That's fine. If possible, work ahead when you are focused and able to concentrate, so that you are never pressed for time later. However, there are going to be days when you absolutely MUST get something done.
So how do you force yourself to get to work?
1. Just Do 20 Minutes.
Once you're in the midst of it, chances are you will be motivated to work beyond the 20 minute mark.
Other ideas for tricking yourself into working for a set amount of time:
- Work through 10 songs on your playlist
- Tell yourself you will work until ________ (dinner, your soccer game, your roommate comes back from her last class)
- Grab a 60 minute timer, close your eyes, set it to an unknown time, turn it around, and work until it goes off
Another way to approach it is to divide up the tasks into parts and then promise yourself you will complete at least one "part." So if you have a long paper due in three days, you might divide it into the following 5 parts:
- Outline paper and write one page introduction with clear thesis
- Write 4-5 pages on Point 1
- Write 4-5 pages on Point 2
- Write 4-5 pages on Point 3
- Write 1/2 page conclusion
Then schedule yourself to do each part over the next two days, leaving yourself the third day to go back, review, and edit the paper.
2. Treat Yo Self!
If I read three chapters this afternoon, I can watch my favorite show tonight.
Write the paper now, so you can have an extra-long dinner with your friend.
If I spend all of Friday doing homework, I can take the rest of the weekend off.
Give yourself a reward - or at least a good reason - for accomplishing all the items on your to-do list and you will find yourself more motivated to finish them quickly.
3. If You Don't Do This Now, Then...
Harness your inner toddler who is protesting at the idea of doing something YOU DON'T WANNA.
If you don't get this done now, you're not going to have any other time to do it.
Write your one-page response paper now or you can't go to the movie tonight.
Stop wasting time whining about having too much to do and DO IT.
This tactic can be just as effective.
4. You Can, Actually, Do This.
So, take your toddler self I described above in hand and say, you've got this.
Nothing in my past suggests I won't be able to get this done on time.
I've made it through harder courses than this before.
Trying is better than handing in a blank sheet.
If it really feels impossible, seek out additional help, either from an instructor (if reasonable before the deadline), a roommate or friend with knowledge on the topic, or an on-campus tutoring center.
Now get to work.