Persistence over Procrastination

by Ivy Rutledge

Ask around on a college campus about personal goals for the new semester, and I bet you’ll hear a chorus: “I’m going to try not to procrastinate so much.” Easier said than done, right?

The key to time management is to measure your time differently. Students commonly divide their semester into chunks of time related to breaks, months, or some other mental framework. According to Scientific American, this is where deadlines start to creep up on you, leaving insufficient time to complete a paper or project. When this happens, you may not produce high-quality work. On campus, your time is measured in weeks and semesters. And if you have a semester-long project, you’ll need to divide your time across the weeks of the semester.

Replace “I’ll get started after spring break” with “I’ll do one piece of this project each week.”

Here’s how to replace the procrastination habit with one of persistence:

Divide your project into a series of logical steps. For each step, list quantifiable tasks, such as “conduct three interviews” or “locate six articles.” For each task, note any required resources or prior tasks that must be completed in order to proceed. Decide how much time you should devote to each step.

Match the steps to the weeks you have available in the semester. Begin with your deadlines and work your way backward, giving each step one or more weeks. If your project requires interdependent tasks, for instance, you need to gather data before conducting an interview. Making a simple Gantt chart can help you determine the sequencing. Microsoft offers a Gantt project planner template using Excel, or you can sketch one out on paper.

Once you’ve determined your weekly time management goals, set reminders for yourself. One way to do this is by writing letters to your future self using This handy tool lets you send yourself emails with future delivery dates. Send your early-semester optimism and energy into the future and remind yourself what is at stake. Then comes the most important part: follow through on your plan, working at a steady pace.

Last-minute crunches can be costly, especially if you are facing deadlines for your thesis or dissertation. So conquer time management by taking the time to plan in advance.

About Ivy Rutledge
Originally from Rhode Island, Ivy Rutledge lives and writes in the Piedmont of North Carolina. She has an MA in English and a special interest in environmental issues. Her work has appeared in print in The Sun and Home Education, and online in the Mom Egg Review, Tilt-a-Whirl, The Copperfield Review, and Ruminate.Ivy Rutledge Headshot


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Twitter: @IvyRutledge
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