My favourite stop on the assignment route…
Procrastination, we all do it. You’re probably on a little spree right now aren’t ya? It’s okay, me too. Welcome fellow procrastinators, *raises hand* my name’s Mary and I can testify that I am a full-fledged, self-loathing type 2 procrastinator.
If you’re reading this, the good news is that you’re highly creative, innovative and probably extremely motivated!
What Kanye said
And if by any chance you’re up against a really scary deadline… From the sovereignty of the isles of procrastination to you, breathe. I believe in you. You will get this done, because you always do! That’s one of our many attributes, working under immense, albeit self-inflicted, pressure.
Many speculate that the habit we know today as procrastination dates back to ancient Roman times, when the action of… Well, inaction, was regarded very highly. Wise leaders would sit around, simply pondering, not partaking in any other task for hours on end, unless they absolutely had to!
Professor Adam Grant off Wharton Business School, PA claims that some of the finest speeches in human history were re-written at the last minute, including Martin Luther King’s iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.
Mozart once got himself stuck in such a hard-core procrastination rutt that he ended up finishing the music for his opera, Don Giovanni, hours before its premiere in Vienna in 1787. Legend has it; the ink on the musicians’ scores was still wet, minutes before the opening curtain call…
So firstly, don’t feel bad!
In the words of Henry Miler, ‘Life, as it is called, is for most of us one long postponement.’
Taking procrastination too far, to the point of hindering creativity, limiting full potential and suffering from the effects of sleep deprivation (not a joke), can be damaging both physically and emotionally. So… Like the good natured citizen of putting-it-off-sville that I am, I’ve compiled a few of my very favourite bad habit busters for your reading and GIF-viewing pleasures below.
For many of us, listing can easily become a source of distraction. (Serial post-it note user here). However, when you reach that moment of realising the proximity of an ill-fated task and the palm-sweats hit, writing or typing out a list of manageable sections in order of importance can actually be quite helpful, not to mention calming.
For example, *worst case scenario* say you’ve left a written assignment to the last minute, take a moment to assess the placement of marks. Will it be more important to perfect each bibliographic reference as you come to it, or will your professor look more favourably upon a well thought-out, coherent structure? For those of us who stave off work till the last minute, it’s worth producing drafts of increasing quality as opposed to handing in an incomplete, abruptly-finished piece.
It’s so much easier said than done but… Try not to be a perfectionist!
We can’t always elicit the kind of review Magneto gave Mystique’s natural form in X-Men
Break Tasks into Manageable Chunks
Similar to the advice above – breaking large, and overwhelming tasks into subsections can really increase the approachability of the beast!
You can also think of this in terms of time: For example, if you’re finding it really hard to concentrate on a task without veering off into another 40 minute session of Candy Crush, give yourself small, achievable goals:
– Work straight for 30 minutes (or more) without any interruptions
– Take a 5 minute break
Once you conquer one chunk, you’ll gain momentum, and I guarantee that as the blocks accumulate, you’ll feel more inclined to power through without that scheduled break you assumed you’d so desperately need!
Publicise your Goals
Don’t be a private procrastinator – the most dangerous breed! Try to publicise your intentions, perhaps not on a large scale (the world doesn’t need any more gushing Facebook posts) but in a more intimate style: Talking to classmates, close friends and family about work and the personal goals we set for ourselves, can often add that extra dimension of much needed pressure that pushes us forward! Fear of embarrassment can be one great motivator!
Cut out Temptations
Temptations can be anything from the elastic band on your desk, to the background noise of your housemate watching First Dates that you just can’t tune out! In the latter case, I’d advise moving to a quiet study space where there are as little distractions as possible. Even being in a more focused environment like the Main Library or the Alan Gilbert Learning Commons (open 24 hours) can make such a difference to your frame of mind. I personally recommend the cosy Muriel Scott section of the library!
Focus on the Reward
…Or perhaps the consequence of not completing a task in good time.
Try to imagine how good it will feel, knowing you submitted an assignment, truly content with your efforts. Or, if you feel a more negative spin is required, think back to how infuriated you were, or will be, handing in a piece of work you know, that with the adequate time, you’d have the potential to do so much better on!
Don’t create ragrets you have the power to prevent!
Treat Yo’ Self
This last one is so important! Reward yourself for achieving those small milestones as well as the big, even if it’s something as small as cup of tea after working for an hour. For those of us not quite as close to the bright, white light of procrastination remission, it’s worth training our minds into a more positive work ethic, and if that means investing in a hot chocolate every once in a while, then cheers to that!
And once the madness of submission, presentation or even performance is over, don’t forget to relax and catch up on a few episodes of that show you’ve been so good at avoiding!
Thanks for reading fans! X