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If you’ve been able to make it this far in your collegiate career without pulling an all-nighter, consider yourself lucky.

Those nights with Red Bull and practically falling asleep in your library cubicle are no fun at all – no matter how easy movies or TV make them seem.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to pull far many more than I care to admit and have run on fumes and coffee for several days on end. I’ve learned from those mistakes and hopefully can share some insight on how you can avoid these awful and stressful nights.

The first thing you can do to avoid procrastination is to stay organized and plan ahead. This means writing down every single test and large assignment for each of your classes in your planner so that you can see a snapshot of how each week of your semester will go. Or, if you’re more of phone person than a planner person, there are several apps on the market to help you get organized and sync your information. You will get a schedule in your syllabi that lists the date of every test and big project on the first day of class so that you can get prepared.

Plan out at least a month in advance which weeks look to be the toughest. If you’ve got more than one test in the same week, plan out when you’ll study for each one. If you know you’ve got a 15-page page due at the end of the semester, try to carve out time during the weeks leading up to it to prepare for your paper. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to get the majority of it done ahead of time so that the night before your paper is due you’ll just be doing some last-minute edits.

Once you’ve got your academic affairs in order, it’s time to plug in your big extracurricular events and see how those conflict with your academic deadlines. For example, if you’ve got Dance Marathon (a 24-hour fundraiser) on Friday and Saturday and an exam on Monday, you know that Sunday night will not be the best time for you to cram, since you’ll already be exhausted. Try to study earlier in the week. Every little bit counts!

One of the most important things you can do to avoid procrastination is to not put off work during your school breaks. Regardless of which break it is, whether it’s fall break or spring break, don’t put off everything until the last night of your break. Try to get everything done ahead of time so that you don’t have that looming over your head the entire time. Plus, let’s be real … it’s not like you’re going to want to do work over your break (even if you bring your books with you). No matter what good intentions you have of getting work done, you most likely won’t follow up on them.

Now that you’ve got the tools to stay afloat without staying up all night for a cram session, go ahead and buy that planner and get to organizing. You won’t regret it!

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