The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
It’s easy to leave assignments to the last minute, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t procrastinate even a little. However, what we sometimes fail to realize is that procrastination is a self-destructive behavior and in the end, causes more harm than good. I understand it is much easier to preach slowly chipping away at assignments than to actually put it to practice, but it really does make a world of a difference.
It feels as if I have spent my entire school career chased by deadlines and barely making them and after many late-night science projects, literature presentations, and research papers, I can say these few tips help to minimize the panic that comes with procrastinating.
First, plan it out. Whatever it is that needs to get done can better be tackled when you have created an outline or list of steps to take you from start to finish. Whatever your course of action, this is not the time to experiment with creative or overly beautified projects or papers, simply plan to complete the assignment from beginning to end as best you can.
Second, prioritize the most important tasks to start with. You certainly will not have enough time to cover twelve chapters or read a whole book and write the report in one night. So it’s okay to pick the most important topics to focus on or search for a book summary. Ultimately, the goal is to complete the assignment as best as possible with the remaining time.
Third, make sure you are comfortable and the space you are working in has good lighting. This will help to keep you awake and inform your body that it is time to work. Whatever you do, don’t sit in bed or near your bed. Your mind associates your bed and bedroom with sleep and relaxation and at the time of cramming in an assignment or last-minute studying, it’s not the time for your body to think it should be winding down.
Fourth, rid yourself of distractions. There is nothing like social media or texting to stop the flow of work. If you absolutely need to, you can download apps such as “Self Control” that block certain websites so no matter what, all you can access are the tabs essential to finishing your work until the timer runs out.
Fifth, take breaks. This may seem counterintuitive but there is such a thing as overworking yourself and burnout. If you don’t give yourself a few minutes every hour or so, you could succumb to periods of extreme exhaustion. Also, better than any energy drink or form of caffeine you may want to consume to keep you up, protein and water are going to be the best option. Water will hydrate you and keep you more awake and feeling less groggy later on.
Sixth, do not completely rid yourself of sleep. You should try to fit in a few hours of sleep, even a thirty-minute power nap is better than nothing. In fact, it is more sustainable to aim for a few hours of sleep to feel rested and refreshed and finish an assignment early in the morning than cram all night and then rest for a few hours in the morning. Most importantly, set multiple alarms if it is an exam you are trying to get to on time. The absolute worst feeling is waking up at noon only to realize the exam started an hour ago.
Lastly, do not procrastinate. Realistically this is not the first time and certainly not the last time that you or I will leave something until the last minute but if you can help it, try to get some work done before staying up to finish an assignment in its entirety. Most importantly remember that procrastination is sometimes inevitable, but even doing a little along the way to the deadline is better than nothing. And hey, I’m not perfect either, I stopped writing a paper due in a few hours to write this article about procrastination!