One of the biggest problems that current college students face is procrastination. Between our cell phones, tablets, laptops and social media accounts, we simply don’t know how to unplug and actually buckle down to complete tasks at hand. The Oxford English Dictionary defines procrastination as “the action or habit of postponing or putting something off.” Although most of us do this, not all of us are actually procrastinators.
Are you often stress-free when a professor assigns an essay or a project? Do you lose sleep over assignments or pull all-nighters? As the deadlines loom closer, does your anxiety escalate from unbearable to paralyzing, preventing you from accomplishing anything at all? Do you receive poor grades?
If you wait until three days before a paper is due to begin an assignment, but still finish the day before the deadline and receive a good grade, you did not procrastinate.
In fact, you simply optimized your time. After a semester or two of college, you learn how long it takes for you to finish certain kinds of assignments — you learn about yourself and your work patterns, ultimately increasing your efficiency factor. Why procrastinators continue to leave everything to the last moment, though it has never served them well, is perplexing.
Reasons for Procrastination
When an essay is assigned, procrastinators often kick back their feet and say something along the lines of “I have three whole months to do this. I’ll worry about it later.” Other students think this way, too, but their anxieties engage in the moment, rather than later. Anxiety sparks action, which allows for success, but a procrastinator’s eleventh hour anxiety inhibits him or her from completing the task on time. Since the perception of time fails the procrastinator, motivation often comes far too late.
Despite any claims that one works better under pressure, success should come from the concentration dedicated to a given task. Procrastination often results from a fear of failure. Some students push things until the last second because they become anxious about the prospect of failure. But in seeking to evade the threat of failure until the last moment, one often sparks the very failure he or she sought to avoid. It’s a damaging and dangerous self-fulfilling prophecy.
Students who enslave themselves to procrastination often do nothing to change their habits, because since things have always ended okay, why change now?
People often think that preparing ahead of time for tests and assignments will diminish free time and social lives. Realistically, it might, but every person is different and works differently. Individuals who optimize their time can find a balance between studying, a social life and sleep. These students tend to plan ahead, which allows them to spend less time worrying about all their responsibilities. This frees up the time that procrastinators waste.
Additionally, planning ahead reduces stress and anxiety, which improves overall health. If you’re pulling an all-nighters and are constantly anxious, you are more susceptible to illnesses like the flu, which can really knock you for a loop. If you’re sleeping more frequently, you won’t need the energy drinks that when abused can cause nausea, vomiting and sometimes, even death when a consumer has a preexisting heart condition.
Want to stop procrastinating and start optimizing your time? Here are some tips to get you started:
Feel Out The Semester
At the start of the semester, go through each syllabus for your courses. Enter dates of tests and assignments into a planner and refer back each day. Looking ahead will allow you to prepare for big tests and projects that are due within the same timeframe.
Fall Into A Pattern
Figure out which time of day works best for you to complete different kinds of assignments, then stick to a pattern. Working ahead allows you to spread out the time you have to complete your assignments and will make your workload more bearable.
Make a list of your upcoming assignments and the order in which they are due. Put all of your energy and concentration into what you are currently doing rather than worrying about the other things on your list. Focus leads to productivity and success.
You won’t finish everything you have to do and you won’t have as much fun if you’re not healthy. Exercise, eat well and be sure you get enough sleep. A healthy body is a happy body.