Picture this. It’s two in the morning, you’re guzzling large cups of coffee left and right to keep your drooping eyes from sliding shut, and you keep thinking about how you wish you hadn’t put off this lengthy writing assignment. You’re cursing your teacher for assigning 10+ pages of writing and time for continuing to move. You’re pillow is calling your name, but it doesn’t matter. You are only on the fifth page.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Procrastination is completely avoidable, contrary to popular belief. You are able to finish assignments before the last minute. Who knew?
In order to achieve this great feat, I’ve provided a list of things to do to make this process easier for you and even for myself.
Create a To-Do List
Many times, physically writing out a to-do list can help you avoid putting things off. Make it detailed and include small tasks as well as the large ones. When you complete a task, check it off. You’ll find that there is a significant joy in crossing out pesky assignments. You might even become addicted, and soon enough, you’ll have everything done before 2 am the night before.
Complete the Hard Stuff First
A major reason why people procrastinate is because of the daunting tasks that tower before them. It’s intimidating, so our natural reaction is to avoid the creeping monster until it is absolutely unavoidable.
My suggestion is to face it head on. Make it the very first item on your list, and tackle the hardest monster first. Often times, we tell ourselves that we aren’t procrastinating by completing the small and easy tasks first. However, in reality, by only checking off the easy stuff, we leave the hardest assignment for last as dawn approaches.
So I suggest breaking the cycle and placing the hardest assignment at the top of the list. By completing those 10+ pages first, you’ll feel more confident, more relieved, and more focused to attack the much smaller assignments.
Set Aside Time
The key to actually getting things done is to set aside time to do them. You can create lists, attempt to tackle the hard stuff first, but if you don’t create time to do it, it will never get done.
So set aside time each day in which you know that you can get some solid work done.
Before you set the time, though, consider which time of day you work best. I know, for myself, that I work best when I can have natural sunlight streaming into the room I’m working in. Because it is relaxing to me, I try to make sure that the time I set aside is before the sun sets.
Others tend to work better at night knowing that they can’t work when they could be enjoying the bright sun. Those people would either set their time in the evening after the sun has left the sky.
It’s important to know your working style. By understanding yourself in that aspect, you will be better equipped to figure out when your working time should be set.
Take a Break
There are times when you’ve exhausted your brain and you can go no longer. The coffee isn’t helping, and you cannot bear to look at the assignment one more time. It’s in these moments that the best thing for you is a break.
Grab a snack. Take a walk. Do whatever you find to be relaxing, but time yourself. Don’t let your break exceed the time limit you have set for yourself. If you fail to set a limit on your break, the chances are greater that you won’t return to your project.
When you do return to your assignment, your brain will be refreshed and the urge to rip your hair out will be long gone.
The biggest thing, I would say, that enables procrastination is distractions. They are everywhere, and they constantly fight for your attention. Eliminate them.
Find a spot that you are most comfortable in, turn off the television, silence your phone, and force yourself to work. Challenge yourself and set goals on how many minutes you want to work without finding ways to distract yourself. See how far you can go. You will get a lot more done in a shorter amount of time if you avoid the distractions, and your quality of work will significantly improve.
Find a Support Group
Sometimes it’s hard doing it alone, and others in your class might feel the same way. Grab a few of your classmates and promise to hold each other accountable. Set some guidelines and deadlines and enforce them.
Knowing that you have other people counting on your to get your work done might motivate you to work harder and avoid putting things off. Your classmates can give you the encouragement to keep working on your project when you don’t feel like you want to, and you can do the same for them.
By creating a support group, you not only help yourself to avoid procrastination, but you help others in your class as well.
You’ve Got This
Procrastination is a hard thing to beat. It is deeply imbedded within the college lifestyle and is difficult to rid of. However, with these tips, I believe we can all strive for earlier bedtimes and less cramming sessions.
So I leave you with one last tip: reward yourself. Whenever you accomplish a task, celebrate! So applaud yourself. You’ve earned it.