Julian Liaw Edward Young, an English poet in the 1700s once said, “procrastination is the thief of time”. Everyone has procrastinated in at least one point of their lives and it is not something we want to do, but it’s something that just happens. Think about this situation: It’s Monday night and there’s a big project due on Friday. What is the point of doing it early when you can just finish it the night before on Thursday? Sure, it may not be quality work, but unless you are specifically motivated to do it, you will not be determined to give it your 100%. How do you push procrastination away and optimize your free time to its full potential?
Procrastination is the epitome of high school and let’s admit it: all of us, at some point over the academic year, have put off work until the very end and managed to half-ass our way through an assignment the night before (or sometimes even the day of!). And although, at some point in our lives, we have wanted to be more proactive on tackling projects and assignments, we have been managing to get by with the idea that the due date is the do date. How do we change this toxic and often risky vicious cycle?
One word: Motivation
You need to really be motivated to learn and do you work on time in school. Some students, like me, just do not have the drive and push that motivation gives you to do all your work beforehand. That is why we brave procrastination and all the side effects that come, like sleep deprivation, inevitable stress and finally, a drastic reduction in the quality of work. This leads to a downward spiral in grades, which, at the end of the academic year, is not a pretty sight and has its own devastating effects. I would know because I am a serial procrastinator but, as my life goes on, I have been working on changing my habits and I am hoping to overcome procrastination with the following tools:
Look at the Big Picture
Some people make overcoming procrastination sound easy, “Oh you’ll be fine, just start your assignments earlier!”
Although my journey to minimalize procrastination has been slow but steady, I still find myself at the risk of getting sucked into it very regularly. For example, I have noticed that I start assignments on the date that they are assigned rather than waiting until the due date to do them. But as the week progresses, I spend less time on the assignment than I intended to. When this happens, I recognize the signs immediately and I simply remind myself that the hard work and effort I put in right now can only benefit me in the future. Why spend time and relax in high school when things are just going to be harder in college? Reminding myself of the big picture helps me panic just the right amount to finish my assignment earlier than the due date!
Get on a Set Schedule:
Something else that has been very beneficial to me in fighting procrastination is creating a calendar. Balancing school, work, an internship, friends, and just basic chores in general can be very tiring and overwhelming for students. Ever since I started using my calendar on my iPhone and Macbook, I have noticed an increase in organization and productivity. I now have a better understanding and clearer image of what I have to get done and when I have until to get it done. The calendar app has honestly been such a big factor in helping me overcome my procrastination because it feels good when I mark a chore as done!
Give Yourself Incentives:
At this point, no one but yourself can be your best motivational coach. You know your habits better than anyone and you know exactly where you are holding back. Give yourself milestones and fun incentives if you reach your milestone like extra tv time or 10 minutes more screen time if you finish two pages of your term paper in a single sitting. If you suffer from FOMO, ask your friend to keep track of you and call you in two hours to just check in. Keep reminding yourself that staying off social media for two consecutive hours doesn’t mean you have fallen off the face of the earth. What’s the worse thing that can happen if you stay off your device for a couple of hours? The truth is, nothing!
Read more about dealing with academic stress and failure on the GT20 blog!