Procrastination? Not today!

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Procrastination?! Not today!
‘I’m going to start tomorrow’, I told myself when I had to write my Written Task for English in high school, which was to be a short story with a maximum of a thousand words. Tomorrow, as it turned out, wasn’t the next day, or the day after that, or even three weeks after that. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, even as the deadline came frighteningly close. I ended up writing the whole thing at 2 A.M., two days before the deadline, since it still needed to be peer-reviewed. After some of my friends read it and gave me feedback, I even procrastinated improving it! On the day of the deadline, however, I became fixed on ridding the assignment of each and every flaw it had and making it absolutely perfect. I ended up handing it in five minutes before the deadline.
‘Never again’, I told myself after this disaster. It had led to so much unnecessary stress. Thus, I vowed to change my ways, to start on time in the future and hand things in a few days before the deadline. Needless to say, I could never quite get myself to really change my ways. I think many students are with me when I say that starting assignments on time is hard. At first a deadline seems to be so far in the future. I mean, two months does seem like a very long time. When you have so much time to do something, it’s easy to procrastinate it. After all, there are loads of things that have to be done before the thing you’re procrastinating, like cleaning your room, buying new shoes, and when you’ve really run out of options there’s always additional school work to be done.
But why do people procrastinate so much, when it’s so much easier and way less stressful to do things a long time before the deadline?
Reasons for procrastinating include flawed time management and study skills, indecisiveness, perfectionism or hating a particular task. The bigger the assignment, the more people tend to procrastinate. The most peculiar thing about procrastinating is that almost everyone hates it and yet they do it anyway, time after time. So what can you do to stop procrastinating? Here are a couple of tips from the queen of procrastination herself:
Take baby steps. Don’t attempt to bury yourself in work right away. Get started by doing something small, however insignificant it may be. Once you’re at least working on something, it gets much easier to do the rest as well.
Plan. Plan everything. Don’t be unrealistic (by planning to do ten hours of work per day, for example). Start off with the small things that need to be done, and then you can gradually build up the workload as the deadline comes closer. Do more during weeks in which you don’t have other important stuff to do (as in, do not use a certain assignment to procrastinate on something else), and less during exam weeks.
– And, last but not least, get yourself to get stuff done by all means necessary, but also try to make it at least a little bit fun. Reward yourself whenever you work on an assignment you really don’t want to do, even for doing minor things.

As for me, well, I’m probably going to have to take my own advice right about now. But hey, even I am making some progress! I handed my last assignment in an entire hour before the deadline after experiencing a day of way too much stress (again). The good thing is, I already started working on the assignment two weeks in advance! It may not seem like much, but remember, baby steps.

 

By Charlotte Geerling

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