Are you the sort of person who believes that you work better under pressure? Have you convinced yourself that you only need to study for exams the night before? Do you find yourself handing in assignments just a few minutes before a deadline? Then you’re probably what is known as a master procrastinator.
The problem with this is that it’s not exactly healthy. Putting off important assignments and leaving everything to the last minute, causes additional and unnecessary stress. Said stress manifests itself in your body – procrastinators show signs of a weaker immune system, are the more likely group to be affected by hypertension or cardiovascular disease and often struggle with depression and low self-esteem.
Most non-procrastinators find it hard to understand why procrastinators are incapable of just getting a job done and why they don’t seem to learn from previous bad experiences. This is something I’ve never comprehended either. Growing up with a sibling who would continually put off anything important, even when it affected him in a very negative way, I always wondered what went on in his head.
I recently found the following video, in which a man named Tim Urban explains, in a highly entertaining way, the thought process of a master procrastinator!
Now I realise that procrastination is an EXTREMELY hard habit to break, but it can be done. The hardest obstacle will be trying not to put off your procrastination rehabilitation! Obviously this is not a change that will take place overnight and you may find yourself slipping up from time to time, but once a routine has been established it becomes a lot easier.
- Keep yourself organised – Try to make a habit of writing down things that need to be done, whether it be on a notepad on your desk or a reminder sheet stuck to the fridge, it doesn’t matter. I like to keep a little pocket diary in my bag at all times. Once you’ve established this habit, it becomes a constant reminder of the things you need to do. You’ll be able to see everything that you have to get done and if the list grows too long your “panic monster” will kick in.
- Do a little each day – Tell yourself that you’re only going to do 10 minutes work, in an attempt to get you to your desk. The hardest part of studying is starting. Once you’ve got your head in a book or you’re concentrating on writing an essay, you often find that the time goes quicker than you expected and that 10 minutes turns into an hour. Even as short a time as 20 minutes can make a huge difference to your final grade. And in all seriousness, what’s 20 minutes? The length of a Youtube video or a long shower.
- Try handing in an assignment on time – If the deadline to give in that paper is Friday, give it in on Tuesday. The relief of having something done is addictive and then you’ll actually be able to warrant relaxing a bit over the next few days, knowing that your assignment is taken care of.
- Arrange to study with someone – You can put off studying on your own all you want, but it’s rude not to show up when you’ve made plans with someone. It’s the perfect ploy to get you off the sofa and to the library for a few hours. Not to mention, it’s always easier to study with someone than it is on your own, simply because you have someone there to discuss what you’ve just studied with. It helps the material to stick in your head.
- Finally don’t give up in the holidays – If you’re a known procrastinator, don’t forget about your routine in the summer or at Christmas, because it will be 10 times harder to get back in the swing of things. Even if you don’t study over the summer, keep yourself busy by working, or exercising, or reading, or ticking off that list of things that needs to get done. Keep the routine going.
I hope that this article has helped some of you procrastinators to get on the right path towards controlling your “instant gratification monkey” or maybe some of the non-procrastinators to understand the inner workings of someone who leaves everything to the last minute. Or maybe this article has just served to help you put off doing some work for a little while longer!