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Just Do It! – Avoiding Procrastination

By Jessica MacNaught, third-year ConEd Linguistics/French student

Here’s how it always goes – the deadline looms, the days go by, and you push it off a million times. You clean out your desk, vacuum your room, and organize your clothes by colour and season in your closet. You wait for the right time to start – you’ll just know, right? But that time never comes, and now it’s the day before the assignment is due and you’re face-to-face with a very blank document.

We’ve all had that experience. I sure have – too many times than I’d like to admit. Procrastination happens to all of us, and it can feel harder to avoid than the deadline itself. Sometimes you just don’t want to do what you don’t want to do – and that’s okay, you’re human! However, being human also means that we have the opportunity to change, grow, and overcome hardships. We can do this by changing bad habits to good ones.

One of my favourite new expressions that I learned this year says to “eat a frog for breakfast.” This means to do the thing you dread the most first – that way it is over and done with as soon as possible. Sometimes at the core of procrastination is a fear of the task itself, whether it is a fear of it being too difficult or a fear of doing poorly on an assignment or test. However, the earlier you start, the more time you will have to keep working at it and get help if you need it! You are only making things easier for future you by starting sooner rather than later.

Another way to combat procrastination is to use the STING strategy. STING is an acronym that has a five-pronged strategy to combat procrastination and stop it in its tracks.

The S in STING stands for “set goals.” So, set some goals – what do you want to accomplish? In this case, it’s probably to get that big assignment done. Just identify exactly what you want to do, and visualize how great it will feel to get it done. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can feel the accomplishment.

T stands for “time yourself.” This means to be time-aware while you work. Make sure to take a break every 50 minutes to preserve your cognitive productivity and not get too burnt out!

I is for “ignore interruptions.” During time-sensitive deadlines, it is imperative that you stay on-track. This is something that you might struggle with if you’re a Yes-Person like me – someone who can’t say no to an invitation, a demand for help, or a phone call. Something I’ve been working on is becoming a “Yes, But Later”-Person – someone who can still have time for other people, but get the most pressing things done first before I do that.

The N stands for “no distractions.” This one is particularly difficult for students, because we have so much on the go – friends living just down the hall, cell phones buzzing, and stress from other areas of our lives all threaten to get in the way of us finishing that big assignment. While all of these things are important, most of them derail our attention from urgent tasks. Try silencing your phone, turning it off, or leaving it in a drawer. Let your friends, family, and the people you live with know that you have something important to work on and need some time to focus on school. Go to the library, a cafe, or somewhere else you can focus easily.

The G in STING is the best part – give yourself a reward! Once you’ve accomplished your goal, treat yourself. You deserve it!

Now, why are you still reading my article? It’s time to get started! 🙂



Photo courtesy of socialpaiges under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.