Procrastination: The Productive Way to Do It

Procrastination. We all do it. Every semester we say we’re going to be more organized and not put things off until the night before they’re due. But let’s be honest: when you got your syllabus and saw that your final paper isn’t due until the end of the semester, you flipped your syllabus closed and went on with your day. Most of us are guilty of this. I did just that when I saw that my eight to 10 page research paper wasn’t due until my final exam. But that doesn’t mean I’m not constantly thinking about it, even if I’m not necessarily working on it.

The biggest problem with procrastination is that we don’t think about the paper until the night before it’s due, and then we freak out because we have this assignment worth a huge chunk of our grade, yet no idea what we’re going to write about. Luckily, there are a few easy ways to avoid this stress.

Save the Date

The first thing you need to do is take note of the due date of your paper, even if it’s still some time away. By keeping the date in the forefront of your mind you are always aware that a big assignment is coming up. A weekly planner kept in your bag or dry erase calendar in your dorm room should help as a constant reminder.

A Little Planning Goes a Long Way

While you may not start writing the paper early, you should at least brainstorm possible topics and how you may want to format your paper. This can be done at any time, such as when you’re standing in line at Tim Horton’s waiting for your morning coffee. Instead of thinking about cute guys or your plans for the weekend, spend that five or 10 minutes thinking about your paper. Is it exciting? Not really. But it could be helpful when it’s time to write your paper. Even better, the sooner you get your first draft done, the more time you have to schedule an appointment with your professor and outline what will make for a fantastic paper. Professors can provide assistance for succeeding in class, and often think more highly of those students who take initiative and advocate for their grades.

The Moment of Truth

It’s now the night before your paper is due. You’re staring at a blank Word document, and the little cursor is blinking. Normally that cursor would be mocking you, but if you’ve been thinking about your paper for the last few weeks and have a basic idea of how you want to write it, then you are in a good place. You can just start typing, even if it doesn’t make complete sense at first. Get all of your ideas into the document and then go back and refine it. Add some details and have your roommate glance at it. Now you’ve got a paper written in less time than usual because you didn’t spend three hours complaining on social networking sites!

Good luck with your semester, and may the odds be ever in your favor!