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Here’s To Every Student Who Would Definitely Get a First If They Studied Procrastination

We all do it. Procrastinate, that is.

It’s just that some of us do it better than others. Perhaps it’s one thing, or a whole list of things that you know need to be done, but you just don’t want to… so you don’t.

You know the drill. You start your day in a really positive mindset, sit down ready to go, open your laptop, open the programme you need… and think: “I’ll just do this first.” And then BAM! Suddenly, it’s three hours later and what have you achieved?

You’ve cleaned your room twice, found out which Disney prince or princess you are actually, and untagged yourself in some incriminating photos on Facebook from about six years ago. Pretty much the only thing you haven’t achieved is the thing you were originally supposed to be achieving.

Setting yourself a time frame doesn’t help, either. Let me set the scene for you. You set a time to start working – 14:00 on the dot! But that’s 6 minutes away, so you have a whole 6 minutes to prepare for your work and continue scrolling through social media. You keep checking the time, counting the minutes down. It’s 13:58 – 2 more minutes, then you’ll start. You will, you promise. But suddenly when you next check the time it’s 14:04! Oh no, you missed it! Now you’ll have to start at 14:15 because of reasons… and so the cycle continues.

Perhaps you do manage to do 10 minutes of work, but then you reward yourself for doing so with a break that inevitably commences another round of procrastination. You go into the kitchen and get drawn into gossip with your housemate (who should also be working). You both stress together about how you’ve achieved nothing and are worrying about your deadlines, but does this push you to do something about it? Nope.

It’s not that you don’t try to combat this issue; you do. But let’s face it, there’s always something you’d rather be doing than writing that 3,000 word essay, or report, or dissertation. If only it were possible to study procrastination, because you would be guaranteed a first.

It’s at this point that you start to wonder how all these people who seem so on top of everything manage it. How do they do it? How do they not get sucked in to the procrastination game that we apparently love to play with ourselves? Are they just better at playing it than we are?

Yes, actually.

So, here are some ways to help you get better at playing the game and stop procrastinating:

1. Break large tasks down.

That 2,000 word report doesn’t seem so huge when you break it down into introduction, method, results, discussion and conclusion! So this morning you will do the method, this afternoon the results – suddenly doesn’t sound as daunting as “today I will do that report.”

2. Tick things off on a to do list.

Being able to tick things off once they are done is so satisfying and makes you feel super accomplished with what you’ve achieved. Plus, it also helps you not to feel overwhelmed by setting yourself a realistic amount to be done each day. (Top tip, even putting everyday things on the list like food shopping that you can tick off will help you see how much you are achieving in one day).

3. Tell people your goals.

If you tell someone else you are going to do something it’s more likely you will do it. It’s just common sense. Those feelings of guilt that wash over you when they check in with you to see how you’re doing and you haven’t even begun – oh, the shame!

4. Work in an environment with others who are also working.

Being in an environment where others are working helps you to get in that mind set. It makes you feel like you should be working too, so you do! It’s almost like that competitive edge you get during sports and hobbies – that other person is still running, so I’m going to keep running. Only your brain is saying, “everyone else is working, so I need to work too.”

5. Redirect to other productive tasks.

If you’re really struggling, don’t flop about and write the day off; redirect yourself onto other tasks. Maybe the washing up needs doing, or you need to do some reading for another module. These are still tasks that need to get done and you are putting your time to good use still.

6. Remove distractions.

This goes back to a good working environment. If you’re a serial social media scroller, put the phone away, and I don’t mean in your pocket. Put it on the other side of the room. Even better, put it in another room. Or give it to your housemate for safe keeping until you have done your task.

7. Just do it.

It’s time for the tough love. Stop making excuses for yourself. Often, once you have taken the plunge, you hit your roll and you don’t know why you were putting it off in the first place. One sentence becomes a paragraph, suddenly you’re on your first page! It all started with that first word…

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