Many believe procrastinators to be lazy, but clearly they don’t realize the amount of work that goes into procrastinating. One does not simply loaf on a beanbag doing and thinking about nothing while procrastinating — if only! I once cleaned my apartment top to bottom (baseboards too… they weren’t really dirty, but you don’t want dust bunnies getting the impression it’s OK to just come in and take residence); drove my unlicensed friends all over town; and went back-and-forth for hours with an old classmate on Facebook about keeping quokkas as pets.
Though I convinced myself I was being a good home hygienist, good Samaritan, and saving quokkas from domestication, I was only procrastinating — plain and simple. I finally realized procrastinating is too much work! All the while, time wanes and a feeling of dread hangs like an anchor from your conscience. Though procrastination is not necessarily lazy, it is certainly not a good feeling or practice. Here are a few new habits to get into to avoid the drama of procrastination.
- Talk to your professors. Much of the time procrastination occurs when we over-complicate a task in our minds and become overwhelmed. Talking to the professor helps to get a better understanding of what is expected and what help is available to you. If having a sit-down convo with your professor seems intimidating, send an email or set up a Skype chat.
- Pepper boring tasks. If you’re procrastinating due to topic disinterest, make it interesting! It’s part of our job as students to finesse the project to fit our taste or to go about completing boring tasks in a way that holds our attention. For instance, if your eggs are too bland, what do you do? Put pepper on them, of course! (Maybe you’re a cumin kind of egg eater, but you get my drift here.) Spice up boring tasks to make them more palatable.
- Plan ahead. The more time you give yourself to do a project, the less work you have to do each day. Create deadlines for yourself and plug them into a calendar widget on your cell phone or into Google Calendar on your computer; then, set reminders. This ensures that you have plenty of time set aside for your project at the onset.
- Most importantly, spread it out. After budgeting adequate time, divide the project into small tasks and spread those tasks out over time. To do this, use a checklist app, such as To Do List by Splend Apps found at the app store on your phone. Completing small bits at a time makes the project easier to approach and gives you a sense of achievement that will help drive you forward.
- Use your resources. Use new media and its devices to make learning easier and more enjoyable. For example, conduct literary research on your cell phone or tablet at the beach. Incorporate art, such as film and music, into your project when possible to help keep things interesting for you and your audience. Try study apps with flashcards, like Quizlet or AnkiDroid. Watch screencasts, listen to podcasts, or join group chats and forums to facilitate learning. All are designed to make information sharing — and, thus, learning — easier!
- Visualize the finish. Let those who have been where you want to go be your muse. Read online articles or blogs and watch vblogs on professionals in your field of study and visualize yourself at your own finish line. This gives you a psychological edge over procrastination, as you will be more motivated to achieve. Don’t spend all day and night doing this — because, at that point, you’re just procrastinating again — but do so as time permits or when a bit of motivation is needed.
- “If you build it, [inspiration] will come.” There’s no need to run around chasing inspiration or waiting for it to possess you. Inspiration is most often triggered in the course of action. So, act! For reports, use the instructor’s requirements to structure your project. Start doing your research and moving from outline to draft. Creativity will spur you to incorporate pictures, graphs, and charts using software like Excel, PowerPoint, and Photoshop or web-sharing tools such as YouTube or SoundCloud to improve your message. Voila, a self-inspired product!
Create, don’t procrastinate!
Give yourself a break from the anxiety, frustration, disappointment, tears and exhausting avoidance tactics. Improve your performance and grades by using some, or all, of the tips listed here. If you want to stop procrastinating and are unfamiliar with some of the tools mentioned in this post, consider a course in New Media and Technical Communications at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee to optimize your overall college experience. See you at commencement!
Recommended media: Educate yourself on the cuteness of quokkas at National Geographic.
Senée Mobley is a student of Public Health also obtaining education and training in Professional and Technical Communications. She is a U.S. Peace Corps Health & HIV Specialist whose avocations include health communications and advocacy. For motivation, she reminds herself and peers it takes a lifetime for change to arrive, but an instant for it to appear — keep forward.