If you’re anything like me, than you are the expert at procrastinating. You live and breathe last-minute assignments and you thrive under the pressure of time crunches. You’ve survived countless essays and reading responses under the most harrowing of circumstances, the most stringent of 11:59’s. And the best (or perhaps, worst) part of it all is that you’re good at it. Nobody can tell you otherwise.
Well, as a fellow procrastinator, I’m here to do just that—tell you otherwise.
Prior to coming to college, I knew that this…reckless albeit functional lifestyle of mine would not cut it. Read any preparatory college handbook or well-meaning blog post that was probably written by some stressed out mother of a college student (of which I read many), and they’ll tell you the same. For good reason, too.
Where in high school, you could cram the night before for that AP World test or hastily, if perfunctorily, annotate that reading (*sheepishly smiles at my high school teachers whom I love and adore dearly*), the nature of your assignments in college are wholly different. In fact, one of the biggest (and most initially daunting) aspects of college is the grading system. Your performance in many of your courses is dependent on 3-4 major exams/projects, a final, and (maybe) a small portion allotted to overall participation. As such, there is an expectation that students are actively portioning study time to each of their classes, even if there are not any impending deadlines. In order to do well, this expectation must become a reality.
*steps down from soap box*
And as much I can say that I’m the best at studying (i’m not), old habits die hard. BUT, I have found a way that has worked so far, so here it is:
1. “Procrastinate” on bigger, more important tasks with smaller easier-to-do ones.
Often times, I’ll find that no matter how hard I try, I cannot bring myself to study that hard concept or read that looooong chapter I’ve been dreading all week. So I’ll do other tasks that’ll need to get done later anyway (like sending an email or even writing a certain blog post for a certain website…). The effects of this are two-fold: you’ll cross something off your to-do list and the very act of crossing said thing off to-do list (metaphorically or physically, your choice) will get the ball rolling for other, harder tasks. It’s all mind over matter. You’ll just start to feel more productive the more you get done.
2. Organize your study space/room/notes, etc.
Speaking of mind over matter, a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. Taking out the trash or organizing your backpack are, once again, tasks that will need to get done sooner or later. Instead of wasting the time you should be spending studying on Netflix (or her lesser known but equally time consuming cousin, Pinterest), spend it organizing! If you haven’t already noticed the trend here, it’s all about maximizing your time with something productive, even if it’s not THE thing you’re procrastinating on.
3. If you just can’t get yourself to study, join something that’ll force you to.
*****THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP*****
If there is anything that I could forever imprint into the minds of my fellow Blue Jays, old and new, it’s to ENROLL IN PILOT!!!! Read that once, then go back and read it again. PILOT is a peer led tutoring service that stresses group learning over individual learning. You’re not mindlessly studying things that, in the back of your mind, you know you won’t ever be tested on; you’re given problem sets that are (actually!) made by the professor. You’re led by a PILOT leader, someone that’s taken the class (and done well in it), who leads a group of you and your classmates to work through the problems together.
If by now you’re not already convinced, I’ll tell you that many of the problems on my last calc midterm have been verrrrrrry similar to several of our PILOT problems…
And beyond that, PILOT has quite literally forced me from many a midday slumber to make the long, but worthwhile trek to Bloomberg to learn (or re-learn) concepts that have inevitably escaped me in lecture. And, if you’re lucky, your PILOT leader will play her eclectic Spotify playlist (that you have since followed because it’s just THAT good) and bring a light snack for you to enjoy while you work through some problems with friends. Really, it’s the best of both worlds.
I hope these tips have helped, and that you, vis-à-vis me, feel a sudden urge to finish that thing you’ve been putting off. Whatever it is, good luck!