By Mark Koepsell
Founder and Navigation Guru
As we approach the end of the semester there is so much to do! Staying on top of projects, papers, and final exams can feel impossible. This comes naturally for some students, but for others, procrastination takes over and a final push to get it all done in a short amount of time becomes the reality.
How can you beat the procrastination bug and stay ahead of it?
Let’s face it, procrastination generally only applies to those things we are not looking forward to or that seem arduous. I mean, really – how many times do we hear about people procrastinating when it comes to things they really enjoy? Some students seem to have the ability to push through and make it happen through sheer determination, and others need a little “strategic motivation”.
Here are six solutions to help you stop chasing shiny objects and cast out procrastination demons
- Identify an element of positivity that can be added to the task. How can studying become more enjoyable? Study with a friend. Study in a more desirable location. Or perhaps, simply promise yourself a “reward” for completing the task. This still requires some self-discipline to not turn studying into a social event, or to actually hold yourself accountable for not providing a reward that hasn’t been earned.
- Self regulate by establishing a negative consequence for not meeting your goals. Rather than that consequence being a bad grade – what if you have an accountability buddy that takes something away if you don’t follow through in your study goals? Maybe you can simply promise yourself that you don’t get that pumpkin spiced latte for two weeks if you don’t succeed in meeting your goals. The motivation has to have real meaning so that the consequence actually has some sting.
- Create a “To Do” list of the individual study pieces that need to be accomplished. Sometimes the task just feels too big! So break it down into manageable chunks. Our psyche appreciates reward. The simple task of being able to cross things off the list enables us to keep going.
- Break the task into chunks and attach a timeline to those individual chunks. Perhaps these occur over a week as opposed to that all night cramming session. The process of thoughtfully creating those chunks (goals) actually can make one not want to fail by missing one of the individual deadlines. Additionally, the smaller chunks are more manageable thus making them more achievable. As we move through, the psychological reward of achievement keeps us moving forward.
- Remove the shiny objects. Disconnect from social media. Put the mobile phone away. And remove distractions like TV and YouTube. However, it is ok to purposefully allow a social media break. It again triggers that reward mechanism and can propel us forward to success. For example, a 15 minute social media break every two hours can provide both a much needed mental break and a celebration of a milestone being met.
- Create deadlines that need to be met. Sometimes procrastination can be cured by a deadline. That’s how those last minute cramming sessions come to be. Begin studying at 7 but plan to meet a friend at 10. The reward is meeting your friend. The deadline is created by the fact that you have three hours to achieve your goals.
Procrastination can happen to the best of us and no one method works for everybody. Intentionality in avoiding procrastination is a necessity. One of these strategies may work, or perhaps it’s a combination of the above.
What have you found that works for you?