Fight Procrastination (Now, Not Later)
October 3, 2015
By: Adrienne Fouts
Welcome to Boone, new students! (And to old students, welcome back!)
Isn’t it beautiful this time of year? The mountains are still green, the sky is that perfect Carolina blue (most of the time), and the weather is warm and gorgeous—perfect for hiking, relaxing on Sanford Mall, or any other “outdoorsy” thing you can think of doing.
Unfortunately, the lure of all the exciting things to do in Boone makes it easy for one of our greatest enemies, procrastination, to get the better of us. It can be so tempting to sacrifice work for fun, especially at the beginning of the year when students are overwhelmed by new activities to try, clubs to join, and places to explore.
So, maybe you’ve been putting off schoolwork because you’d rather go out with friends or finish your show on Netflix. Or maybe you did jump into the school year ready to work hard, but you can already feel yourself losing motivation. Whatever the problem, it’s good to get a head start and fight the urge to procrastinate now, so you aren’t in the habit of procrastinating later when all the final projects, papers, and exams start piling up.
Here are five tips for defeating procrastination:
- Get yourself on a schedule!
Just like you block off portions of your day for classes, club meetings, work, and other obligations, set aside specific times each day for doing homework. Incorporating homework time into your schedule as a non-optional commitment will get you into a daily rhythm and help you finish your work faster.
- Break big projects up into smaller tasks!
A 20-page research paper or a group presentation can seem daunting; it is easy to procrastinate just to avoid having to face them. Major papers or projects will be much more manageable if you break them up into smaller tasks. Tackle these one at a time and check them off a to-do list.
- Fight perfectionism!
Students usually want to get an assignment out of the way as quickly as possible, meaning that they don’t want to go through the extra trouble of multiple drafts and revision. Some students also have trouble writing anything down unless they know it’s absolutely perfect. Free-writing can help break this perfectionist barrier; begin to write without stopping to worry if it’s good or not. Half the battle is simply starting the assignment, and once you have something written down, it is much easier to go back and revise it.
- Know yourself!
Figure out when, where, and how you are at your most productive. Are you a morning person, or do you work best after midnight? Can you work in your room, or do you need to change settings often? Do you require coffee and snacks? Once you know your zone of productivity, go back to it each time you have to get work done. It will help get you in a more focused mindset.
- And finally… take breaks!
As important as it is to do well in class, it’s way more important to take care of yourself! Don’t lock yourself in the library all day to stare at your computer – give your mind and body a breather. You should spend no more than 30 minutes to an hour at a time studying, with short breaks in between. If you’re having a complete mental block, step away from your work for a longer time. Exercise, get food, talk to your friends, or watch some TV—whatever helps clear your head. When you go back to doing homework, you’ll be refreshed and more productive than ever.
As someone who is too often the queen of procrastinating, I know how hard it can be to just sit down and get work done. All the cool stuff to do at Appalachian can be distracting, but hopefully these tips will help you defeat procrastination so that you can enjoy the fun things guilt-free.