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Procrastination to Productivity

by Katherine Wright

photography courtesy of Pexels

Procrastination—likely the leading cause of academic discomfort—is a curable disease. It just takes a little bit of effort, a little bit of a push and perhaps a little bit of advice. Below are five tips for breaking the cycle of feeling frustrated and overwhelmed:

Get out of your comfort zone

Literally speaking, your room is probably too comfortable. Having your bed a few feet away can be too tempting, easily getting you off track from your homework. It can take an enormous amount of willpower to choose completing an assignment over taking a nap, so it’s best to not take any chances. Going to an alternate location—such as a coffee shop, the library, a study room or an empty classroom—can help prevent distractions. When working next to someone else, it’s much more likely you’ll feel obligated to work, too.

“I study at Mugar sometimes, but I prefer to find somewhere a little more active,” said Caroline Koehl (CAS ’22). “I love Pavement as well as the GSU, and I’m always looking for new spots as well.”

Take breaks and reward yourself when you finish a goal

Typically the hardest part of an assignment is starting it. Thinking about all of the work on your to-do list can feel paralyzing, overwhelming and almost impossible to sort into manageable chunks. As a result, we avoid starting the assignment until we absolutely have to, leading to the dangerous game of procrastination. Making structured time for breaks and rewards can help lessen the intimidation surrounding a difficult task.

Try working for 30 minutes completely uninterrupted—no checking your phone, no getting up, no talking to someone nearby. When the time is up, you’ll have made a dent in the assignment and can feel better about watching a five minute video or going to get a coffee. You’ll be motivated by the soon-to-come reward, and will push yourselves to get as much done as you can in a short period of time.

Make a schedule and stick to it

Sometimes self-imposed deadlines can help split large assignments into concrete, attainable and smaller objectives. When making schedules, it’s important to set realistic goals that can be accomplished in one day. This will help to ensure that each task can be met, and that there are no excuses to skimp on an assignment.

Priya Viramgama (CAS ’21) stressed starting projects ahead of time to avoid procrastination, instead of starting them right before the deadline.

“When you do a little bit everyday, the big projects aren’t as hard, and the assignments aren’t as daunting,” Viramgama said.

Go to the gym

Not only will you feel productive and accomplished when you’re done exercising, but you will feel more energized and willing to work on your assignment. This doesn’t mean completing a draining or full-fledged workout. Sometimes just walking on the treadmill or doing a light yoga routine can spark enough motivation to continue.

Small victories like cleaning your room, making your bed or prepping meals for the week, have a similar effect. Start a chain of productivity that will lead to other accomplishments, like finishing that essay or getting ahead on a work assignment.

Listen to a podcast

Sometimes we need inspiration from an outside source. Hearing others’ success stories might help motivate you to make a change, such as picking up a pencil, working on an assignment or even applying to an internship. It just takes an interview with Amy Poehler or Conan O’Brien to hear how important work ethic and perseverance are in accomplishing your dreams.

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