By Melissa Burns
Procrastination is a fact of life – all people suffer from it to this or that extent. It only so happens that students are among those most often associated with putting things off. Which is understandable – after all, at school and especially at college you have to perform a lot of time-oriented tasks, and for the first time in your life are given enough freedom to decide for yourself when and how you are going to do them. In other words, procrastination is a natural result of this situation; but students must fight it if they hope to achieve any success.
Nature of Procrastination
Procrastination is a complex psychological phenomenon that can hardly be summarized in two words. If one to understand how it works, one has to understand what causes it.
The mechanism of procrastination usually works as follows: you are unwilling to deal with a task or activity. Instead of setting a time to do it and following through with your plan, you either put it off until the last possible moment or start early but waste most of the time getting distracted.
The problem has more to do with habit than to time management – those suffering from procrastination have a very good idea of what they have to do and which tasks should have priority – but cannot help but put them off and find excuses to divert attention to other things. The degree of procrastination experienced by a student may differ from case to case – some simply are not as productive as they can be, while others are literally paralyzed by this condition, putting the simplest things off for days, weeks or months.
So How Can One Beat Procrastination?
Procrastination is a complicated issue, and its reasons may be completely different from case to case. Sometimes it is rooted in perfectionism – you have extremely high standards for your work, always have to redo everything multiple times before it satisfies you, get frustrated and are afraid to enter this cycle again. It may be low self-esteem – you don’t believe in your ability to do the task, and if you are unable to do it anyway, why bother starting it now? It may be something else entirely – procrastination is as varied as people suffering from it are. That is why methods of dealing with it are very different – if one doesn’t suit you, it doesn’t mean you cannot successfully use another one.
Cut the Task into Smaller Segments
Most often, we procrastinate because the task seems too difficult and overwhelming. It is so big you don’t know where to start. Well, to deal with it, change its nature: break it up into multiple manageable tasks, preferably – the ones you can do in one go.
Don’t Think. Just Do
The task looks unmanageable. It will take too much time; you’d better put it off until you can dedicate a whole day to it.
Don’t do it. Start right now. If the task is really big it may take dozens if not hundreds of hours to complete – and you will never have that much time to spend on it in one sitting.
If you’ve been putting the assignment off for so long that now you know for sure there isn’t enough time for you to complete it on time, seek help from an online writing service – they can be real life-savers in a pinch.
Kill Interruptions and Distractions
According to MagicDust, the best way of dealing with procrastination is eliminating the very possibility of getting distracted from work. Set a fixed amount of time every day that you will spend on work and nothing but work. Allow no distractions. Turn off your cellphone, Skype, Viber or whatever means of communication you favor. Don’t check e-mail, don’t watch TV, don’t go out for a cup of coffee or a snack, don’t chat with your roommate. Remember – after getting distracted you will spend from 10 minutes to half an hour to get into gear again, so don’t allow this to happen.
If you are unsure about your willpower, start small – set aside half an hour to fully dedicate to work, and gradually increase this amount.
One Thing at a Time
If you have a lot of work, ask yourself: what task is the most important one? If I do nothing but this today, will I be satisfied with the results of my day? If the answer is yes – start doing it and stop worrying about all other things you are not doing right now.
Create Artificial Motivation
The results from achieving the task may be remote and abstract – in other words, not enough to motivate you to do it right now. So what? Create artificial motivation, treat yourself. Set a reward you will give yourself after completing the task or its especially obnoxious part.
Remember – procrastination is not only counter-productive, it is deadly. By putting things off, you don’t really benefit from getting more free time. You live under constant shadow of undone work. Life that can be spent happily and productively is wasted in frustration and worry.
Don’t let this happen.