By Alana Sardellitti, 2nd year Math/Music Con-Ed student
“It’s 9:00 pm on Sunday night, and I have an assignment due Monday morning that I haven’t started. It’s going to be a long night.” You know the feeling. We all have done it: put off doing an assignment or studying for a test until the night before. I know I have on multiple occasions and it caused me to feel stressed, get less sleep and not do as well on the assignment as I would have liked. I felt so guilty afterwards because I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish it in one night and I should have started the assignment earlier. Procrastination is a challenge that all students face, but I’ve found some tips and tricks that can help us overcome it.
The game plan!
The first thing that I like to do when it comes to my school work/exams is take my calendar and write in all due date/exam dates. This helps me get an overview of the semester/exam period. Then, each week, I see what I have coming up in the next 7 days and plan out my week. Having a plan of when to work on each task helps me stay on top of all the things I need to do.
Here’s a link to some of the schedule templates Student Academic Success Services (SASS) has online: http://sass.queensu.ca/time-management/schedule-templates/
Making a plan and having a to-do list ensures that you know everything that needs to get done; however, having a long list of assignments can look intimidating. Breaking each task into smaller chunks helps make having an essay, a mid-term and an assignment all in one week seem a little more do-able. Instead of thinking that I have to write an entire essay by next week, I break it down into smaller sections. For example, I will have the first paragraph done by tomorrow, then each day I will finish another paragraph. This approach will give me one or two days to edit my essay and have it done for the due date. SASS has an online assignment calculator that can help you break down your assignment which can be found here: https://sass.queensu.ca/onlineresource/assignment-and-grade-calculator/
Eat a frog for breakfast!
Some weeks I have multiple assignments and tests, so I have to decide what I will work on first. This situation is when I usually do the most procrastinating. I always choose to work on the easier or shorter tasks that I am more interested in and I know I will be able to get done quickly. This however leaves me with less time to finish the harder tasks. So, I’ve tried to “eat a frog for breakfast.” No, this doesn’t mean to literally eat a frog! It simply means to start with the most daunting task first. Now I realize this is easier said than done, but trust me, even if you take just 10 – 15 minutes to start your most arduous task, you will be that much closer to completing the task and who knows, you may even find yourself on a roll and want to continue working.
More often than not, I find it difficult to motivate myself to get started on assignments early or begin studying for an exam in advance. I get it, we all would much rather watch an episode of our favourite show on Netflix, go shopping or hang out with friends than work on an upcoming essay or study for a calculus test. But there are ways to balance both, getting your work done on time and still doing the things you enjoy. When I don’t particularly want to work on an assignment, I give myself an incentive to tackle it by rewarding myself after I complete the task at hand. For example, if I have a homework assignment due Monday, I will tell myself if I finish it by Friday, then I can go see that movie I’ve been dying to see, or I can spend Saturday afternoon baking.
It may take some time to figure out which strategies work for you, but hopefully with these ideas you can begin to beat the battle against procrastination!
Some other anti-procrastination strategies can be found here: http://sass.queensu.ca/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2013/09/Anti-procrastination-strategies.pdf
Feel free to visit the SASS website if you would like to find more tips and tricks to help beat procrastination http://sass.queensu.ca/