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Overcoming Procrastination

A very late Happy New Year and happy spring semester! This month is all about dealing with procrastination because despite just starting the semester procrastination can continue to be a struggle.

Since starting University and recognizing the vast difference in academic expectations, We have all come across the very widespread issue of procrastination. According to Merriam-Webster, procrastination is the act of “intentionally putting off something that should be done”. So rather than beginning to write a research paper, read literature, or study for a test, you watch a film, read a book, or scroll through Instagram. All of which is not necessary and could wait. I find myself procrastinating when my assignments are not particularly engaging or interesting, or after burnout. I am so done with the heavy load of work required that I just want to chill and do something stress-free. And while breaks are necessary, too much time spent, can lead to lower quality of work and can inhibit your learning.

Here are some ways to try to be more present, productive, and engaged!

  1. Make a to-do list

Using a planner to help organize your classwork and assignments can be very helpful in knowing what due dates you have ahead of time. Additionally, making a to-do list can help you visualize what you need to get done that particular day, and encourage you to check off at least some of those boxes. Organize your list from the highest priority, and set time periods to know how long you plan to spend on a given subject. This is known as time-blocking and has been proven to improve productivity by as much as 80%. Setting a time period of 2 hours to complete a task will yield far more effective than beginning something without specific goals in mind.

  1. Check off as you go

Watching yourself be productive can actually encourage you to continue focusing on your assignments and goals. If you see that you have finished a majority of your work, you will feel more accomplished as well as prepared for an in-class discussion or group conversation.

3. Put away distractions

This is one can be challenging, especially when you are completing assignments online. Having multiple tabs or browsers open can encourage you to easily check your e-mail, and social media or start watching YouTube videos that were originally related to a class and then became the opposite. Some things I have found helpful are turning off notifications, and sometimes even turning off your wifi or airplane mode.

4. Use Paper

In today's technology-filled society, everything we do seems to live online, our notes for classes, our essays, papers, and even tests are all on our laptops. Rather than continuing that tradition

  • Try to take notes for a class with pen and paper!

  • Print out literature or find the paperback in your University library

  • Use highlighters and pen to actively engage with the material and annotate

5. Change your environment

If you are always doing your homework in your home, the space might be too comfortable and distracting. Try going to your school library, a student center, or spaces where other students are around you. Sometimes even being outside can engage your senses and focus.

6. Focus in groups

Sometimes attempting to complete multiple assignments by yourself can seem daunting. One way to curb this is being around friends or peers who are in the same class. When you have an assignment due soon, work with other students on the assignment, even if you are not talking to each other being in the same space and holding each other accountable to focusing on one assignment can increase productivity If you are having a test coming up, find a time to study with other people, test each other and make it fun! However, we know this might be distracting for some people, so do what works best for you!

A final top tip from us, the next time you are experiencing procrastination implement the 5-minute rule. Try getting yourself to do said task for 5 minutes and after that, you are free to stop. Psychologists have found that this cognitive-behavioural technique method shows that once you start doing the task you no longer want to stop. Getting started is the hardest part! However, is important to recognize that procrastination can be a good thing, especially if you have been editing a paper, or reading a textbook for hours, take some time away from it. Do something fun like listening to music, playing a sport, drawing, or watching a film, then go back to it with a fresh perspective and see what happens!

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