The Unecessary Evil – Procrastination
Tips on how to manage time and responsibility!
Four chapters to read, eight quizzes, a hundred practice questions, and a test review, all due before next week’s classes—this is only an example of the common beginning of a typical school semester. Students are not the only ones to procrastinate, but they do have plenty of tight deadlines to fulfill, mixed with young impulses and a hint of nonchalance. Between studying, extracurricular activities, chores, errands, part-time/full-time jobs, and actually attending school, procrastinating tends to become part of the equation. There are dozens of reasons why we all suffer from the condition and the endlessly sad response we give to ourselves is “just do it”, as if we were a Nike commercial.
While it isn’t exactly wrong to tell yourself to “just do it, it’ll be over soon”, we know by experience that it doesn’t always work. We decide to work on other things, claiming it’s just as productive because it had to be done anyway, even though we know the new task didn’t have priority over the former.
As advocates for student comfortability, SLL proposes that maybe our students need a more personal way to fight the lazy urge to avoid a responsibility. Below, you’ll find a compilation of ways to help curb your procrastination.
Step 1: Get a calendar, any calendar!
Make sure you can see and access it easily, whether you find it more useful to have it on your computer desktop, or a physical calendar hanging on your wall—keep it somewhere where you will see it often and can easily write tasks on it soon after they come up. If you know you’re going to be surfing the web anytime you sit down on your computer, stay away from a virtual calendar and stick to something you can physically write on.
If you want to excite yourself to keep up with your calendar, resolve to add fun things to it, maybe a photo of something you did on that month, cute pens to write on it with, interesting quotes you’ve heard, or even stickers to highlight days when you have extra time to relax.
Step 2: Write down every single task
Now that you have your calendar, write down every single task you have to do and write them down as soon as you can after receiving said task. Whether it’s a small chore like washing the dishes, to big things like appointments and tests. Writing down every single task may sound overwhelming, but in the big picture, you’ll find it enhances your productivity and actually gives you more time because you spend less time shifting through your responsibilities wondering which one is due/needs to be done.
If you feel anxious or overwhelmed by only writing down your responsibilities, consider also writing down time to relax—allot time to rest, sleep, and have fun!
Step 3: Prioritize
Every day, take a look at your calendar and decide what can be done quickly and what needs more planning. Depending on when you are most productive in the day, decide what to do first, the more time-costly tasks, or the multiple, smaller tasks.
Usually procrastination involves doing small tasks first to avoid the hard ones, so if you find that you already do that often, use it to your advantage and wipe out the small easy tasks before you tackle the big one. Just make sure you don’t add little tasks that weren’t important and not in your calendar in the first place.
Step 4: Divide and conquer
When you finally get to the bigger task of the day, don’t freak out! Feel good knowing that this is the big one and that once you finish it’s smooth sailing!
You’ll need to assess how to divide the task into chunks, this requires a little creativity. For example, “you” have those four chapters to read through and you’re overwhelmed by the reading and the quizzes that follow. Consider reading the quiz/exercise questions before you start the chapter. That way, as you read the chapter, you can answer the questions at the same time without worrying that you’ll have to go back and sift through the material for the answers. Give yourself a small break in the middle of the chapter to have a short walk, or pour yourself some tea or coffee (maybe eat a snack, but don’t give into eating just because you’re bored).
Once you’re done with the first chapter, you can consider giving yourself another break, or continue if you feel focused and don’t want to break your concentration.
Step 5: Reflect and overachieve
If you’ve completed all your tasks for the day, don’t stress about the future responsibilities. When you get to this point, you’ll realize that it’s of the utmost importance to list your responsibilities under the correct days, placed early enough to allow you enough time to complete them. Placing responsibilities on the day before they’re due only lends to more procrastination and bad time-management. The overall goal is to complete these task on time, not “in the nick of time”.
With that said, if you now find that you have extra time on your hands, consider getting a head start on at least one task you have to do the next day. You’ll eventually see the benefit to this when you suddenly have full day free to spoil yourself with!
- Don’t Blame someone or something else
Resenting a task is pretty common. We all wonder, sometimes, how we got stuck doing something we don’t want to. However, despite the “if, ands, and buts”, the bottom-line is that you have to get through it and if you don’t do it, the task only does more harm. It’s a very “suck-it-up” kind of notion, but it’s also the type of attitude that makes you responsible.
- Don’t just say yes to everything
Consider how you got assigned your responsibilities. Did you ask for more than you can handle?—Learn to say “NO” when you need to. If you find that you have the extra time later on, you can then offer a “YES” to that extra task.
- Don’t rely on all-nighters
Don’t ever let it get to this point. It’s more painful than any boredom you can imagine. You’re not only sleepy, but your focus is cut, making it even longer to have the task finished, and the next day you’ll notice the work you did is subpar, and you’re also backed up on sleep.
- Skipping class doesn’t always give you more time
Skipping class only sets you more behind. Sometimes your teacher may divide your class between a couple of days so that all students may present their work to the class, one at a time. It’s understandable to want to skip the day[s] where you don’t present, but consider if you’ll be missing out on important instructions or study material.
- It doesn’t have to be perfect
A lot of times procrastination comes from fear of failure. Understand that failure is better than not trying at all, and if you give yourself an early start, you may find that you’ll find ways to improve what you worked on, turning it into a success!
- Don’t set yourself up for failure
If you know you can’t study when you’re with friends, consider studying on your own. Same goes for noisy environments, such as parties (do you really trust yourself to study at a party?). It’s another form of procrastination because you know you won’t be able to complete the task, and set up the situation to blame it on.