Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Procrastinator’s Guide to Not Doing Terribly in College

This is a blog post for all students, whether they are freshmen, upperclassmen, graduate students, or exploring the complicated world that is college academia at UT Tyler.  A common issue of procrastination exists amongst all students of higher learning, with varying magnitude amongst each individual.  However, now is the time to break the common mold that you may have already set yourself in; use this blog as a clean slate to disrupt the norm of educational procrastination.

Now, I know myself to be a consistent procrastinator, but that does not mean I am ok with it.  On the contrary, I constantly try to find new ways to make myself study and do work in a more efficient manner in relation to time, rather than put off assignments until they are either more convenient for me, or when they are due the next morning.  Many others have similar habits, and there are effective tips to combating these potentially harmful trends.

1) Try not to overextend yourself 

The blog post from The Monkey Cage that I previously discussed mentions this issue for new students.  It is common in a high school setting to be a part of many extracurricular functions, have a job, and takes a large amount of upper-level courses, and still have plenty of time for a social life.  With college, however, this is a little trickier to manage.  While you may spend less time in a classroom due to more lenient schedules, the amount of studying to make desirable grades is massively increased.  Activities outside of class are more time consuming and require a heavier dedication from the student.  If a student tries to balance multiple activities, it forces them to prioritize certain responsibilities based on perceived importance, leading to procrastination for certain activities.  Avoid the stress that comes with this popular trend and just stick to a few activities.

2) We both know you have a calendar, so use it.

It is a simple, but extremely useful concept if there are several tests, papers, and projects that need balancing in a single semester.  Each class you enroll in will have a syllabus, and professors generally like to plan their test dates and due dates well before the semester begins.  The simple procedure is to add each date to your personalized calendar.  Whether it is in paper form, on your smart phone, or on the calendar, keep all of your due dates organized in the planner/calendar that you look at the most often.  It may seem arbitrary now, but assignments seem a little less intimidating when you are aware of the impending due date.

3) Optimize your work environment

One of the main causes of procrastination is the perceived inability to start an assignment.  Whether it is from lack of motivation, difficulty of the assignment, or the lack of required materials, students will make excuses for not initiating work, and it only leads to a moving startup time.  The easy solution is to put yourself in a more productive work environment in order to increase the motivation to get started.  Effective strategies include going to the library to work, finding a good study group, or more simply, putting down the Xbox Controller and picking up a textbook.  The best thing you can do is remove any propensity for excuses and just get busy.

4) Set some time aside for yourself

While college may seem tough, it is not designed to force you to become a workhorse.  Every student deserves some down time, spent to their own choosing.  Some students enjoy social gatherings on and off campus, and others are content with sitting down and playing video games, watching TV, or reading their favorite book.  The important step is to ensure you give yourself time to do those things without putting off your critical work.  A large motivation to procrastinate stems from the urge to enjoy your favorite hobbies instead.  If you set aside a few hours a week to do those things, the urge will inevitably decrease, giving you more time and motivation to do your assignments.  You will be grateful for the time you give yourself. 

College should be challenging, but it does not have to be stressful.  Procrastination cannot be completely eradicated, but it can be tamed in order for you to earn the grades you deserve.  So take the initiative!

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