By Jessica Messerer-Trosin
As a university student, it’s easy to procrastinate. You plan to read your textbook today, tonight, or tomorrow. But it turns into never. The same thing happens with written assignments. You plan to start two weeks before it is due to give yourself time to edit and revise it; what actually happens is that you start two days before the due date.
How does procrastination impact your assignment?
If you’re stressed out, you won’t be able to think clearly and fully engage with the topic.
If you work on it all night before it is due, you won’t have any time for revisions – perhaps the most important step for a written assignment.
You may also write about the first idea that came to mind. Often, while exploring the first idea you want to write about, you discover another idea that you like better, something that you can create a better argument for. But since you left your assignment to the last minute, you won’t have a chance to investigate this new, probably better, idea.
The problem with procrastination is that it becomes a routine you fall into really easily, and have a hard time getting out of. At first, you’re optimistic, believing that that you have time to get it done. Then you say to yourself that you work well under pressure.
In the end, you finish your paper (barely) on time and you might even get a decent grade. Your feelings are mixed: You feel a sense of accomplishment to a certain degree, but you also know that your grade was not necessarily deserved for the (lack of) time you put into it. You think to yourself, “Well, I got a decent grade after all,” and your procrastination continues because it didn’t really cost you – this time.
Deep down you know that procrastination is like playing with fire, but how can you overcome it?
Here are some strategies you can implement to overcome your habit of procrastination:
- Get away from distractions – The temptation of scrolling through your Facebook feed or checking your emails will keep you from getting your work done. Put your phone away and out of sight and sound!
- Break up the job – Completing a paper will of course seem like a daunting job. Instead, break it up into some smaller tasks and set goals for yourself to get those smaller tasks done. For example, set a goal to get the introduction drafted today.
- Ask for help – If you are procrastinating because you’re unsure of where to start or how your ideas work together, it might be a good idea to make an appointment at the Writing Centre or with your professor.
- Find a study buddy – If you find yourself procrastinating only when you’re alone, find a friend who stays focused on their own work and ask them to work alongside you. Their good habits might make their way to you.
- Write an easy part first – If you’re struggling with the introduction, don’t start there. A paper doesn’t have to be written in order from beginning to end. If you have all the information for your first body paragraph, start there.
- Be realistic – Procrastinators have the habit of thinking that they can work more quickly than they actually can. Think about how long your last procrastinated assignment actually took you and keep that in mind as you wonder when you should start your current assignment.
Overcoming procrastination isn’t easy, but once you realize that you’re doing it, you can take steps to stop.
Just because you got a decent grade on the last assignment you left till the last minute, doesn’t mean that it was close to your best work. Always strive to reach your full potential!
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/emilegraphics/4061937192