It’s every student’s best friend and worst enemy. Procrastination has been around since the dawn of time, yet mankind is still searching for effective ways to combat it. But what if you could make procrastination work for you instead of against you? With these tips, you can make that dream a reality.
1. Just get started
The hardest part of any assignment is getting started. Just the thought of an eight page paper makes me want to curl into a tiny ball and start napping. Resist the urge! Sometimes just getting started is the best thing you can do for yourself. Tell yourself that you’re going to work it your task for only ten minutes, then get to work. Chances are, you’ll get so into the groove of things that you won’t want to stop. Ride the productivity wave while you can. If you really can’t get into your task, wait until the time period is over, then move on to something else. You can always try again later. After all, even if you only work in random ten minute intervals, you’ll be progressing. This is what I call:
2. Chunking the task it up
Chunking a task up = making a rough plan for accomplishing it. I could’ve called this “Make a Plan,” but that wouldn’t be nearly as fun or attention grabbing. I cannot emphasize the importance of this strategy. (Actually, I could with lots of capital letters, underlining, bolding, and italicizing, but I’ll spare you, dear reader.) Even if your plan is as simple as “write outline then write paper,” you’ll be giving yourself a roadmap of tasks to eventually be done. Future you will thank you dearly if you’ve done even one of these tasks before the day your assignment is due. You’ve still procrastinated, but you’re not starting from scratch. I cannot count the times I’ve been grateful for an outline or the first page of a paper when I’m in a time crunch.
3. Use external aids
To type this article, I used a program called Writer’s Block. It won’t let me access any other app on my computer until I type a specific number of words. I found it while
procrastinating researching on tumblr. During National Novel Writing Month, my peers would use an app called Write or Die. If you spent too long thinking about what you wanted to write, the app would start deleting the words you had already written. There are your standard calendar apps, but I assume that you’re already using one of those (or a planner. Sometimes I forget those exist.) When it comes to external productivity aids, you really have go through trial and error to find the best one for you.
Keep in mind that your aids only work as well as you let them. If you type gibberish to fulfill your word count or let a writing app lock your computer for an hour but wait it out while playing on your phone, you’re not gaming the system. You’re gaming yourself.
4. Discover your time wasters and replace them
These are the things you do when you don’t have time to do something substantial. For example, when I’m waiting for my friends, I check social media. When I’m bored, I nap. It could also be something you do when you’re not sure where to start. When I’m overwhelmed, I nap. As you can see, I take a lot of naps. It’s my time waster. Replace those little nuggets of wasted time. It doesn’t always have to be homework, but it should be something productive. Don’t fall into the trap of “I absolutely have to this right now because it’s vital to my well being.” Yes, you have to feed yourself, but you don’t have to spend four hours in the dining hall every night. Ditto for sleeping, showering, and other health related activities.
There are an infinite number of ways to procrastinate, (including researching ways to stop procrastinating. It’s strangely meta) but the first step to beating procrastination is by being self aware and tricking your mind whenever possible. Hopefully you can use some of these strategies to ditch all-nighters forever. In the meantime, quit checking Instagram. You have work to do.