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Tips from a Major Procrastinator

With the spring semester here, college students once again have to balance school work, classes, non-academic activities, and anything else on our plate. It is possible that with so much to do, we may get overwhelmed. For me, there comes a point in the semester where I am so overwhelmed by everything I have to do that I stop dedicating effort and time into all of my responsibilities, which ends up very terribly for me. As college students, we need to learn how to prevent this burnout and keep ourselves motivated, which — don’t get me wrong — is extremely difficult. Though I might not have it perfectly down, after last semester I think I have some good tips that can help college students get through a work slump and prevent them from becoming a major procrastinator.

You are capable of doing this work

You and you alone are the one who can write the amazing essay or that fantastic lab report. You made it into this class for a reason and you don’t have to be afraid of writing or doing something wrong. You can do it, and if you need some assistance, that’s what the professor, TAs, friends, office hours, and tutors are for. 

You don’t have to be perfect

On that note, remember this: you don’t have to be perfect. That’s what school is for. If you do make some tiny errors, your professor will help you correct them for further reference. You are there to learn, especially from mistakes, so you don’t have to do everything perfect. This feeling of perfection may prevent you from starting work due to the fear of not doing it perfectly. But if you start now and work really hard at it, you can do the work to the best of your ability. You don’t need to be perfect, you. Also sometimes it’s better to challenge yourself and enjoy your work than just going a simple, boring route for an A. 

Remind yourself that the quality of your work will be better if you start now

This is the fact that our brain looks over or ignores when we want to procrastinate. Sometimes we think that maybe we can do an assignment better if we leave it for later. Be wary of this illusion. The fact is that we do better work, we write better essays, and we make better lab reports when we start as soon as we can. Not only will your memory be fresh, but you will have extra time to revise and do the work to the best of your ability.

Remind yourself that the time to do your work is now

The time is now! When your brain is telling you, “It’s OK, I have four days to finish this assignment,” four days soon becomes two days, then one day, then seven hours, then three hours, and then you’re left panicking to finish fifteen minutes before the due date. Trust me; it’s happened to me too. If you train yourself to challenge your mind’s initial thoughts about procrastinating, you can prevent yourself from facing certain doom.

Reward yourself after you finish an assignment

Because you should. You worked hard to finish what you did and you deserve the reward. It’s the worst feeling in the world to submit something and then feel like you didn’t do a good enough job. If you dedicated time and effort and enjoyed doing it, you did do a good job! Go get a snack that makes you happy. Or go give yourself a sticker. You deserve this!

I hope this helps you all whenever you feel the temptation to procrastinate. Know that you can prevent it and you can do an amazing job!

Izabella Lizarazo

Columbia Barnard '24

Izabella is a freshman at Barnard College, often found listening and/or singing along to show tunes or Latin jazz. She's a fan of journaling, organizing, and writing. She is almost always available to go out and talk over a bubble tea or ice cream with friends. Although she is undecided on what her college major will be, Izabella is interested in history, politics, literature, and Spanish and Latin American cultures.