Procrastination: I’ll do it tomorrow. I’ll do it in a minute. The procrastination epidemic is sweeping across the college nation and this one word has become a familiarity to all. That one single word is probably why you’re reading this article right now. Despite its nature to come as more of an excuse for laziness rather than an explanation, science has started to concur with the idea that we might be prone to procrastinate.
According to the American Psychological Association, about eighty to 95 percent of undergraduate and graduate students admit to procrastinating or feeling the need to procrastinate when it comes to their coursework. This delay in taking on the responsibility of completing our plethora of homework, projects or papers can take on a large range of measures. Small actions like scrolling down social media to larger things like taking on other commitments like clubs or sports can all be subconscious ways to avoid certain tasks.
The best way to combat this need to delay work is to understand exactly what you’re feeling it and how to move past it. Here are a list of the five most common forms of procrastination and a few suggestions on how to just get the job done:
1. Poor Time Management
While this may seem obvious, some people don’t realize that their procrastination is really just a sign that they incorrectly divide out their time and have misconstrued priorities. Odds are, you’ve known that you have had a speech to give for two weeks but you still haven’t started. It just happens. Balancing a social life and a school life (and a work life for some) isn’t easy. While we would all love to take apart of this “live in the moment” movement our generation is in, the fact is that sometimes you have to skip wine night, sometimes you have to turn off the TV, and sometimes you have to buckle down and do things even if you don’t want to. The best way to handle this is to schedule. Plan out times to study and work in between all the fun things on your planner.
Sometimes, it wasn’t that we had other things to do or that we would have rather done, we just don’t want to do anything at all. Everything sounds better than finishing that paper, that ALEKS assessment or studying for your calculus test. Sometimes our mind would like to do nothing. We absolutely lack motivation. To combat this laziness, allow yourself small rewards or study with a friend. Promise yourself a Starbucks two hours from now or go grab a snack after thirty minutes of studying. Having someone there to help keep you on task is a good tool as well. Just make sure it's someone dedicated to their work enough to guilt you into doing yours, or someone who cares enough about your sanity to push you to work.
You’ve pushed a lot of things to the side, unaware at how high the stack of things needing your attention was climbing, and then all at once these tasks are sitting at your doorstep all with deadlines approaching. Times like these leave you feeling spread too thin and utterly intimidated. Finding a place to start seems impossible, but starting is actually the most foolproof way to overcoming your overwhelmed-ness. Pick something random, pick something small. Just start on one project. Even if you don’t finish that project in one sitting, doing something is always better than doing nothing. Continue to do this whole picking-away-one-bit-at-a-time thing until you’ve reached the point where those giant stacks aren’t so giant anymore. Don’t allow yourself to make something harder than it already is.
We’ve all said it, “I’m waiting for the time that I can sit down and do it right.” The sad fact is, that for some of us who are always going 90 miles an hour, this time probably won’t find us. Which leaves us not doing it at all. We sit and make lists of things to do and how to do them, but our fear of incorrectly completing a task leads us to leave those lists unchecked. This is an ideology in which you just have to will yourself to let go. You can’t truly do anything perfectly and trying to do so is just another added stress. Sit down and handle each task to the best of your ability and leave yourself feeling proud of that.
5. Fear of the outcome
Following along with the fear of not being perfect sometimes our inability to start a task stems from the fear of all possible outcomes. Not only failure, but sometimes we are afraid of success and the growth that follows as well. The best way to overcome this type of procrastination is to embrace the future like you would embrace a surprise party. Get excited about not knowing what comes next and be prepared to handle everything with grace and excitement. Find motivation in seeing something through to the end.
It happens to us all. Our 20-minute nap turned into a two hour one. A quick lunch with a friend turned into a shopping trip, a movie and dinner. "Let me check this Facebook status" turned into reading two Odyssey articles and taking four Buzzfeed quizzes. When it’s so easy to entertain our minds, it is equally easy to snowball into hours and hours of unproductiveness. It’s time to recognize your procrastination, admit your procrastination (and I don’t just mean on Twitter for all your followers), and decide to step up and do something about it. Really, Netflix is so much more enjoyable when you don’t have to think about that test you haven’t studied for while every new episode is loading.