[Advice Column] How to stop procrastination?

I had a great suggestion from one of my users to have a Saturday an advice column because weekends are usually slow online and I get so many reader questions that would be helpful for everyone. Please feel free to email me any questions for my Saturday Sit-down/Saturday Brew/Saturday Advice/Dear Vanessa–I haven’t thought of a name yet, you can shoot me an email with those suggestions too– at manager@scienceofpeople.com. (rrules.com is another new site I am working on for teens).

Here is the question that she submitted:

My 13 year-old has just started getting more homework and projects. We never really had a big problem getting homework done before, but now that he is getting assignments far in advance, it always seems that last minute we are rushing to get things done. I have talked to him about working ahead of time, but he always wants to wait until last minute, how can I get him to stop procrastinating?

Hi Marnie,

Procrastination is so common amongst teens and especially college kids and can really start effecting grades when the workload gets heavier, so the earlier it is tackled the better. The trick is to help/encourage him to study earlier without nagging him or meddling in his studying.

procrastination.gif 1) If he does not have one already, get some sort of planner or calendar either given out by the school or a notebook you can get at any office supply store. It should be one that your kid likes and picks out with you because otherwise he will never use it.

2) When I started 9th grade I had a lot of problems with tests ‘just sneaking up on me’ or ‘I cannot believe this essay is already due!” I truly did not mean to wait so long, I just forgot and I think this is how procrastination usually starts before it turns deliberate (later in High School and College). So, on the first Sunday of every month I would sit down with all of my assignment sheets and projects and mark the calendar with all assessments for my classes (tests, quizzes, papers, reports, labs etc). I would highlight them and then write reminders the few days before. Have him, or do it with him the first few times, sit down and markup his planner with reminders so you know he cannot forget (and then you have an idea of what are the good and bad times of the month).

3) Recently I stumbled upon a free ebook from fruitfultime.com that you or he might enjoy with some awesome tips for beating procrastination and help you figure out what type of (there are three) procrastinator you are:

Free ebook to beat Procrastination

You can read it or you can pass it along to your kid to read (we love reading ebooks and this one is quick–only 39 pages)

4) My last suggestion is after you have set your kid up on a calendar system, let him manage on his own and tell him you will do so. One of the daughters of the families I work with has a serious problem leaving things to the last minute and only remembers when her mom reminds her and then they both stay up into the night and run around getting things for her float or science project. She has come to rely on her mom helping her. She flat out told me: “why should I try to remember when my assignments are and do them early when I know my mom will tell me and then help me finish.” So tell your kid that now he is on a schedule and on his own to remember and get it together. If he needs materials he needs to give you two or three days notice and then let him do it himself! If that means they have to turn in a few projects late because you did not help or remind, at least you are breaking the pattern.

I hope this helps, happy Saturday! Shoot me an email with your question for next Saturday (and any suggestions for a nifty name)

Dream big, work hard, and you will get there,


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4 Responses to “[Advice Column] How to stop procrastination?”

  1. Scott
    January 26, 2008 at 9:50 am #

    I like Dear Vanessa, thats pretty direct, or maybe Saturday Sit-down. Cool idea!

    You could also try Saturday with Teens instead of your main site which is On Today with teens?

    good post

  2. FruitfulTime Blog
    January 26, 2008 at 9:56 am #

    Hi Vanessa,

    We are pleased that you have recommended our free procrastination ebook to your visitors. Thank you very much. I am sure that they will it helpful.

  3. Mike
    May 23, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    Hi, nice posts there :-) thank’s for the interesting information

  4. Vanessa Van Petten
    May 25, 2009 at 10:02 am #

    thanks for reading Mike!


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