I am that person who would wake up at 4 am on the morning of the exam to study. Did well, but this does not work for long term retention, large amounts of material, or well being. I am also in my last year of medical school and used these strategies to successfully study for our massive, partially useless standardized exams. Hopefully, it helps you too on how to overcome procrastination.

Be realistic and kind to yourself.

I had a lot of trouble with this one: would always set up unreasonable expectations, or even if they were reasonable, would set up expectations that would burn me out in a week.

Use empiric data on how much you can accomplish.


I would time myself how long it takes me to do something (e.g. it takes me an hour to read 20 pages). In my study plan, then, I would budget to read 15 pages an hour.

Create a good routine.

Set up a consistent routine: do the same thing, at the same time, in the same place.

Build it up, task by task.

After I figured out how long it actually takes me to do something, I would set up a small number of hours to do a couple of tasks (e.g. read 20 pages, then do 40 questions, then fix the questions). If I completed them, then I would add one more task to do the following day, until I figured out what my limit is (e.g. I can’t concentrate after 8 hrs anymore). This is the first thing to know on how to overcome procrastination.

Take breaks

don’t make them too scheduled. I would take a small break after each completed task (e.g. go to the bathroom, drink water), but I would not set an actual timer, bc that stressed me out.

Splitting tasks into different parts of the day work

You might be able to work for 6 hrs in the morning, but then you feel like you can’t do it anymore. That’s fine: bum around until the evening, and you might be able to put in another 4 hrs.

Switch tasks

I can’t do the same thing for longer than an hour. However, I can work for 4 hrs if I do 4 different tasks. You are also less likely to get bored and stop paying attention.

If you need a day off take it!

If you feel burned out, full breaks stop what you are doing and take a day off. That half an hour is not worth the long term loss of productivity. reload the batteries and you will be way more productive when you are back at it.

Eliminate all distractions


Leave your phone in a different room. Use chrome extensions to block facebook and other social-media from your computer.

Start with the most mentally demanding tasks first


You get tired as you work, but your brain is still useful for easy stuff later in the day. You are more likely to quit on the hard stuff when you are tired. Plus it feels good and motivating when you finish those.

Bad days are okey, if you dwell on them it will just create a negative spiral.

If you don’t live up to your day sometimes, that’s totally fine. No one does. Be proud of your work. Always.

P.S. it gets a lot easier as you do it for two reasons: you develop a habit (making starting a lot easier, feeling weird when you are not doing this), and you get more efficient (skills get better over time, including this one).

P.S. #2 I used to be a TA and a private tutor for college students (science, math). In any case, I am happy to help you come up with individual learning strategies if you send me a message.

That's all on how to overcome procrastination.