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Remove Your Procrastination Angst and Get Things Done

Now that the fall semester is finally here, it is time to start re-thinking procrastination and fight the beast yet again. I know all students, myself included, love to say “this semester is different, I will stay up to date with all my work!" and it usually turns out to be the complete opposite. 

But, this semester, you can really achieve it... like for real this time. I have come up with this short, yet comprehensive, list of habits that are really helping me fulfill my work early and cut all the unnecessary anxiety that comes with procrastination.

Get a Head Start

Although I have always been successful at school, even while being an expert procrastinator, I always believed starting work early was an unthinkable task. Why on earth would I start an assignment before the due date? I mean, the concept was baffling to me. Growing up, I was always the child that would start my science fair project the night before it was due and hear my mother’s screams echo when I would tell her we needed to do a quick Office Depot run after dinner and confessed that my project was due the next morning.

I know a procrastinator’s last thought is wanting to get a head start on assignments but trust me, it frees you from so much negative emotion. If you casually do some of your assignments every single day and break it down into tiny parts, by the time your assignment is due, you have completed it entirely having skipped the dread of starting it on the day to turn it in frantically hoping it is not 11:59 P.M. yet.

I have come to realize that work feels much worse when you have the stress of turning assignments on the day of. When you work in advance, you are able to get as much or as little done as possible, all while still feeling ahead of your tasks. This fuels positive emotion and motivates you to continue to work above your pace. 

Remove Negative Emotion

I recently came across an article on The New York Times titled: “Procrastinate Much? Manage Your Emotions, Not Your Time” by Adam Grant. This article made me re-think the way I have been viewing my assignments and how to approach them completely. Previously, when completing my assignments, I would usually be in a frenzy having extremely anxious feelings and overall remain in a huge state of negative emotions. I would do anything to avoid assignments, such as taking a nap or spending hours on Instagram scrolling through nothingness.

I have started creating an environment that stimulates my brain and makes me feel my smartest and most positive. Whether it is making an iced coffee to start or making a nice breakfast that will fuel me, it is important to use some form of stimulant that you really enjoy to jump-start your thinking and start on a productive foot.

Once you have gotten your snacks or coffee in order, continue to focus on your working environment. This could mean putting low feel-good music in the room or even turning on a passive show that you have already watched too many times than you can reveal without a little bit of embarrassment- it is Family Guy for me. When you play a non-distracting show in the background of your work area, it removes the pressure of your completing work and soothes you in making you believe you are working on something for fun.

Often times it is not even the work that we procrastinators hate doing it is just the pent up negative emotion that we build around that assignment that makes it unbearable to complete.

Make a Spreadsheet

I don't know about you, but I am a planner AND a visual learner. I also really enjoy positive reinforcement, so this new method I am trying for planning out my assignments is really helping.

Most of us already use Canvas, Blackboard, or some sort of interactive site that allows us to view our upcoming assignments and when they are due. But, I wanted something extra. I felt like sometimes assignments sneak up on you and even discussions or extra credit assignments will not always appear on the online to-do list.

This is what you can do. You can divide your Excel spreadsheet into 5 different columns with the labels “Due Date”, “Class Name”, “Assignment Type”, “Assignment Name” and “Completed?”. You then view your syllabus for each course and start listing your assignments on all the rows with the information you set in your columns. When you are finished with that, you color code the assignments by class and boom, the ultimate guide for visualizing each and every single assignment and staying up to date.

The positive reinforcement comes from being able to check off the “Completed?” column once you have finished an assignment especially if it is completed early. This spreadsheet also helps you visualize how far you have come in completing the semester and makes the fall term seem much less stressful by appearing shorter every week. This spreadsheet idea was actually introduced to me by TikToker Joe Brennan @passtheparmesan on TikTok.

Diana is moved by writing and the ability to piece thoughts together freely on paper. She is an avid lover of travel and exploring new places and their culture. Her favorite show is The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and enjoys spending time with loved ones especially when they all come together in the holidays. Her favorite holiday is Christmas and waits all year long for fuzzy socks, hot chocolate, and decorating the house in ornaments.
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