Procrastinators: don’t put off reading this The Sheaf September 6, 2013 12:00 am Opinions NATAHNA BARGEN How do you deal with the stress of doing homework? Procrastination is something that we can all relate to — especially those of us who have been students for years. With the new school year here in full force, it’s time to deal with this problem head-on. If you’re not a procrastinator yourself, you certainly know someone who is. Repeat after me, “Hi, I’m _________, and I’m a procrastinator.” I can’t help but wonder if these habits are a result of the eruption of the technological age, putting students of our generation at an unfair disadvantage. Did Leonardo da Vinci or Albert Einstein have an easier time achieving genius status because they didn’t have the wonderful World Wide Web to distract them? On my worst days of procrastination, I may as well have written “read all of the internet” in my day planner instead of any other actual pressing duties. I hate those days. I feel terrible afterwards and I know that I have just made my life a little bit harder. However, I think that I am a recovering procrastinator. And you can join me in my procrastinators’ anonymous club and start recovering too. One of the most important questions to ask as a procrastinator is why you do it. If you haven’t given it much thought before, you probably don’t know. According to Psychology Today, three basic types of procrastinators are, “arousal types, or thrill seekers, who wait to the last minute for the euphoric rush….avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success…[and] decisional procrastinators, who cannot make a decision.” For myself, I’m either avoiding work as a form of personal rebellion — giving homework the finger and watching Netflix instead — or I am putting it off because of my fear of failure. From a recovering procrastinator, first diagnose yourself as best you can. Why do you choose not to do what you need to do? Once you have an idea of what triggers your procrastination, figure out a system that will help you fight it. My greatest weapon for the past two years has been keeping a day planner. Find one that you can carry with you, be it on your phone, laptop or in an actual notebook. Using a day planner allowed me to see the larger scope of my schedule. If I know the due dates of major and minor assignments, I write them in on the date due and then write in incremental goals for myself, which helps finish the assignment on time. For example, two weeks prior to the due date I may write in “have outline done,” then on subsequent days pencil in “write intro,” or “write first 500 words,” to help with my progress. It’s making small manageable goals for yourself that will make your life easier and give you a sense of accomplishment along the way. When I plan an evening for homework, I will write a schedule for myself — again with small manageable goals. The schedule is about making a list of what you have to do, and how much time you intend to give yourself for each task. Don’t forget to give yourself a break every now and again. All work and no play will certainly make you a dull boy or girl. Regularly scheduled breaks give you the incentive to work hard and will hopefully encourage you to postpone searching for different varieties of cheese made in Sweden until during your 15 minute break — or whatever else it might be that catches your interest during your down time. This is what works for me, but you need to find what works for you. One encouraging thing to remember is that none of us were born procrastinators. It’s something we learned along the way and, thus, it can be unlearned. – Photo: UGL_UIUC/FLICKR Ryan Ironically, by reading this article I procrastinated on doing my work…will there ever be any hope! Anonymous Good article. I also find that motivation plays a huge factor in determining whether or not I will do something. For example, if I am being forced to do it, I am very likely to procrastrinate because I do not give the task any personal significance. But if I want something truly very badly, then I do my work. Having a long-term goal, a genuine REASON for why I’m doing something, makes me not procrastinate. Then again, there are alot of factors to procrastination: like already being overwhelmed with everything that’s going on in your life and secretly trying to escape everything, and like mentioned, fear of failure or the pressure of success, causing people to run away from their challenges by procrastinating. Maybe another good question to ask would be: why DO you have to do this task instead of why not, and contemplate real hard on the consequences. But I guess in the end, the reason for procrastination and its solution is just whatever floats your boat. Katy I agree. I don’t procrastinate on the projects that I enjoy, but procrastinate heavily on those that I dread to do. hacktron Getting started is often the hardest part. If you tell yourself you will only do 15 or 20 minutes of work and then take a break, you may find yourself still working a few hours later. If, however, you plan on doing 3 – 4 hours of work, it can be intimidating to even start. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_Technique. Establishing a routine is also important. After about a week of forcing yourself to study or workout at a specific time for a specific length of time each day, it requires little will power to continue the routine. In fact, it may cause you mental distress when you are forced to break from your routine… try not to become a workaholic. So yeah, It’s all about inertia. I echo the stuff on the effectiveness of long term planning. Have an electronic calendar that is synced between all of your devices. You can refer to that whenever you need to. It ensures you won’t wake up one night in a cold sweat realizing you’ve forgotten a paper is due in two days. I also like having a physical calendar in my office with all upcoming due dates. For day to day stuff, I have a white board. Get home from school/work, write 4 – 5 points on my white board that I would like to get done for the day. I normally don’t get through all of them. That’s fine. The point is to keep moving forward, bit by bit, and keep things managable. When exams are a couple of weeks away, I create a more focused plan: how many hours do I need to get through the lecture material and problem sets for each class and on which days do I study for each subject? Oh, and get evernote, forward all of your email to one address, and become a robot.