Two weeks ago I talked with you about planning ahead, and shared some simple tips to help you get organized for the start of the semester. While planning is an essential part of time management, it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room that often keeps you from tackling tasks efficiently: procrastination.
Procrastination behavior is something that afflicts us all so take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. It’s amongst the many bad habits we can have, but the good news is that bad habits can be broken. Trust me when I say that you’re going to want to break this habit before you enter the workplace! I was once that person who was proud of saying things like “I just perform better when I do things at the last minute.” I’ve changed my ways, and I promise that you can as well. Here are two ways to start:
Understanding Why You’re Procrastinating Is Half the Battle
What kinds of tasks make you start to procrastinate? Is it a writing assignment? Does Chem 101 homework inspire 5 hour Netflix binges? When we engage in procrastination behavior, it’s because the task ahead of us is making us anxious and uncomfortable in some way. We procrastinate in order to avoid the anxiety, and turn towards things that bring us comfort (social media, YouTube, Netflix, you name it!). The problem is that procrastination doesn’t really bring us comfort.
Think about the last time you engaged in a procrastination fueled Netflix binge: How did you feel while you were watching the movie or show? Were you carefree and enjoying yourself? Odds are that you felt guilty and that your anxiety continued to snowball in the background of what was meant to be an enjoyable activity. If procrastination behavior doesn’t actually bring comfort, why do it?
Time that is truly your own will make your study time more productive and will make you less likely to procrastinate in the future.
This is a long way of saying that when you procrastinate, your whole life is kind of bad. You’re not doing your school work, and you’re also not enjoying your free time. Knowing this is half the battle, because once you realize that procrastination doesn’t even make you feel better, you can face what’s making you anxious head on (which, by the way, is the only way to actually feel better).
Plan for Study Time and Free Time
One of the best ways to combat procrastination is to plan for when you’ll study and when you’ll have free time. Approaching studying with an “I’ll do it when I have time” philosophy makes it easy to spend 2 hours on Instagram. In your planner, schedule blocks of time every day when you’ll be studying (we recommend about 5 hours a day) AND blocks of time when you’ll have free time. This time should be completely separate from academics, and can be used as a reward for studying.
That’s right, you can give yourself some time in which you can actually watch that television show guilt free! Time that is truly your own will make your study time more productive and will make you less likely to procrastinate in the future. If you’d like to use our 24 hour time grid to fill in your whole schedule every day, check it out here.
Procrastination isn’t a habit you can break in a day, but by really committing to changing the way you think about time, your whole life can be better. Trust me, I’m living proof.