EducationSkills

There’s always that point in the semester when you’re feeling burned out and no longer motivated. There’s so much on your to-do list that you don’t even know where to start. Procrastination puts you in a loop – you’re not in the right mood to do work and feel unproductive, so you decide to do it later. “I’ll do it tomorrow,” you say. Instead, you’re busy doing things you don’t need to do in order to avoid everything you’re supposed to do. Netflix? A nap?

Here are some tips on battling procrastination:

1. The best way to get something done is to begin.

We tend to overthink large tasks that we have to accomplish, but once we actually start, we lose track of time. Don’t shoot for completion in one sitting. Just begin. After completing some tasks, progress will follow.

2. Assess the task.

Divide the task into smaller pieces. It is easier to tackle smaller chunks than one huge task. For example, do you have a 10-page paper to write for next week? Make a plan to write 2-4 pages every day. The quality of your work is going to be much better than writing it the night before and you’re not even going to notice that you’ve reached the tenth page.

3. Schedule work sessions.

Make an hourly schedule for things you have to accomplish. Progress adds up and gives you confidence that you can finish the task. Set goals for each session, but don’t beat yourself up if you can’t finish something, just move on to the next thing.

4. Eliminate distractions.

It’s so easy to get distracted by your cellphone or social media. Set your phone on airplane mode or put it to the side out of view. You probably don’t realize how much time you waste browsing the Internet when instead you could be doing work.

5. Find a (good) study partner. 

I’m sure you’d love to hang out with your best friend, but what if she/he is a distraction to you? You have so much to discuss that studying goes to the side. Find someone who cares about his or her academic performance even more than you do. It’s good to hang out around people who inspire you to try harder.

6. Be reasonable.

Don’t beat yourself up trying to make your project perfect. People revise multiple times. Put your best effort and complete the task on time. You’ll have hundreds of project assigned to you during your career and not all of them are going to be perfect.

7. Reward yourself.

You’re probably your own biggest critic – give yourself a break sometimes! No one’s going to treat you better than you do. After completing a task, reward yourself. Get a latte, a movie ticket, call your best friend, or play a sport that you enjoy. Have an incentive, something to look forward to while you’re completing the task.

Procrastination might seem like a challenging battle to win, but you can do so by taking small steps, like finding the right study buddies. The most important thing is to begin, and you’ll get through the semester with flying colors!

Image: Gratisography

LearnSkills

Procrastination is that bittersweet friend of yours who dumps you when you need him or her the most. It is not the act of procrastinating per se that is most troubling. Delaying assignments by using Snapchat or watching cat videos is quite enjoyable. It is what happens ‘after’ that leaves us at our wits’ end. It leaves us with more worries, more stress, and more workload. Can this be contained? Yes, of course. Here are a few effective tactics you may use to do so.

1. Break the Bulk

Overwhelming work is a driving force for procrastination. Hence it would be in your best interest to break the workload into smaller components. For example, if you have a large project that needs to be completed, divide your work into sub sections such as Introduction, Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. This way it will be easier to digest how much work you have and you will be far more motivated to complete your tasks.

2. Set Artificial Deadlines

Deadlines help us keep pace. Our working senses get activated when we have a near deadline looming over our heads. Making your own deadlines before the actual deadline is a good way to get you on your feet. But they would be void without incentive. Make a penalty for not following deadlines and reward yourself for completing tasks on time. Make sure to not reward yourself too heavily, for you will get carried away and miss your next deadline.

3. Alternate Your Tasks

Boredom is procrastination’s best source of fuel. Don’t stick to one task as it will soon become tedious and the distractions around you will suddenly become more inviting. Alternating your tasks will keep you focused. I mix dull tasks with enjoyable ones to complete my work faster and more efficiently.

4. Stay in a Conducive Environment

Make sure you’re in an environment that is conducive to completing work. This entails doing work free of distractions. In my own experience, I switch off the Internet modem whenever I have homework to avoid WiFi-related distractions. Having friends who are motivated and supportive also helps. They will push you back on the right track when you feel like quitting. Tell your friends about all of your goals so that you become more accountable to fulfilling them.

How do you tackle procrastination?

Image: Jan Vašek

CultureEducation

Dear Writer’s Block,

Welcome back, my friend. I haven’t seen you in quite a while. How have you been?

As you know, the first round of papers and projects have come (and for some, has gone). There is nothing more satisfying in the world than finishing that last sentence, adding that last period, doing that one last save and export as PDF. But sometimes, those finishing touch moments don’t come, all thanks to you.

What do you mean, you ask? Well, Writer’s Block, you’re well aware of your talent for showing up during this time of the semester. Especially for people who have Capstone or Thesis papers to write, you’ve made yourself comfortable, haven’t you? Visiting in the middle of the night just as I’ve gathered my textbooks and novels and highlighters and post­its. You’ve come just as I set down my cold coffee and popped open my glowing laptop.

Ah, yes, the Writers Block. There are things that happen when one feels a Writer’s Block come around. Every moment in the shower, on the bus, on the train, is devoted to trying to resolve a problem.

How do I start this paper?

What should my proposal be about?

This proposal isn’t working!

Is this due next Tuesday? Monday? Friday?

Aaaaaaaaaaah!

Buzzfeed quiz.

I have no idea what I want to write about.

What am I gonna do?

I guess I should do an outline.

Maybe I’ll do the outline later.

I’m just going to go browse Forever21.com now…

This idea isn’t that great, but I can’t think of anything else.

I’m 2 pages short.

I’m a paragraph short.

I’m literally a sentence short of hitting the minimum page requirement.

I’m just going to go internet shopping because I don’t know what else to do.

Help.

It’s about time that finals comes upon us, the rush of assignments before Thanksgiving and the dump of exams after it. Writer’s Block… why?

Sincerely,
Stressed College Student

P.S. I’m going to figure out what to do with you, Writer’s Block. Just you wait…

Image: Rennett Stowe