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.