Increase Your Productivity Through Focus & Motivation Techniques

Do you often find yourself putting off actually starting your work, or once you’re working on that assignment that you get easily distracted? Below are just some of the options that are available to help. Check out and see what you would want to implement into your routine to reduce procrastination and increase your focus.


  • Prior to your study session, take a minute to get organized and prep your space. Turn off unnecessary notifications, make sure you have everything you need to be productive, grab a snack or drink, and get comfortable (but not so comfortable you might fall asleep!).
  • Have trouble getting started? Try using a timer and working through the duration of the time you set, then give yourself a small break and set the timer again. For more tips with using a timer to promote productivity, check out the “Pomodoro technique” and this great timer with built-in breaks.
  • Get distracted while working because other thoughts keep coming into your head on what you need to do later? Try the “parking lot” method to keep yourself on track.
    • Keep a piece of paper, notebook, or word document open while you are working on your current task. When something comes up in your mind that you feel the need to address, write it down so that you can come back to it later. This way you can “park” or pause the intrusive thought to continue working and it helps reduce the urge to change tasks or multi-task.
  • Find ways to reduce temptation. Plan ahead to avoid whatever you might get distracted with and either remove the distraction or replace it with something more positive.


  • What is your “why?” Sometimes when we lose sight of why we’re doing something, it can be hard to persevere.  Why are you pursuing this educational goal and how does this program, this class, or this assignment contribute to your overall knowledge and goal? How does this learning benefit you?
    • If you find yourself wanting to be here at Kirkwood to pursue an i
      nterest but aren’t sure what your end goal is or what types of careers you can pursue with the degree you are getting, I highly recommend reaching out to our Career Services Office to help you explore options available to you!
    • When you better clarify your reason for pursuing your education, it can make a significant impact on how you move forward with purpose.
    • Focus on building up the positive rather than negative. What is is that you get to do and why is it good for you to do so? How will it benefit you to complete your assignment or make time to study for that upcoming exam?
  • If there is something- like a particular class or homework assignment- that you especially find difficult to start on, pair getting that done with a small reward for yourself. Examples of this are getting a favorite drink that you can treat yourself to after completing a more mundane task, or maybe you can study and practice flashcards when you walk your favorite trail. Get creative with ways that you tackle each task and reward your progress!
  • Work to get rid of an “all or nothing” mentality. Every minute when used wisely, counts! Oftentimes I find if someone doesn’t have over an hour to devote at a time to their classwork, they don’t try to get anything accomplished. Even if you only have 20-30 minutes, getting started and making progress is possible. By planning ahead and breaking each assignment down into smaller tasks, even if you have only a short length of time, you can accomplish something. Often when you have a start like that, it is easier to come back to as well when your page isn’t blank.
    • Studies also show when you study for more frequent, shorter lengths of time built into your routine vs having one long study session, your brain is better able to retain and process the information you review. This type of repetition is what helps many remember the information best for their exam.
  • The biggest factor for finding your motivation to prevent procrastination is to reflect on why you may be procrastinating in the first place. Do you struggle with perfectionism or find the work you need to do too easy/ too difficult? Are you overwhelmed, do you lack energy, or are you letting yourself get distracted? Try to pinpoint what is causing this disconnect first and often then you can find a solution that may work to help you make progress.
    • If you struggle with perfectionism, treat your work as a rough draft. Create a deadline ahead of the due date for yourself to just help the paper or assignment get started. From there, you can get feedback or plan to edit later, but in the meantime you’ve gotten a good start and have something that you could turn in if needed.
    • If you find yourself getting too overwhelmed with all you need to accomplish, try breaking the tasks into smaller pieces that are easier to manage for you.  A quick plan for what to tackle can go a long way.
    • Ask for help! If you don’t understand the directions or content, reach out to your instructor for guidance or consider asking for a tutor. Each instructor is available by email and full time instructors have office hours specifically for students to connect with them. Tutoring is available at no cost to all students- we have individual tutoring, some walk in options, and online/ Zoom availability.
  • Consider your future self whenever you think about procrastinating. If you took five minutes to do it now, would future you appreciate that? Would future you who is sitting and trying to take the test deeply appreciate that current you took the time to study the material and prepare? Absolutely! Taking the time to do one thing now will help you feel less overwhelmed with your to-do list later.
  • Trouble figuring out why you’re procrastinating and getting past that mental block? Check out the Fogg Behavior Model to help you get to the root of why you’re having a hard time getting started.


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Kirkwood Community College Academic Coaching Resources Copyright © by Myranda Hadley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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