A Procrastinator’s Guide to College Coursework
Hi. My name is Jordan Ballard. I am a sophomore in college, and I am a procrastinator. I will put assignments off until the night before, ignore the due dates, and pretend that I don’t have homework to avoid doing it. I’m sure you’ve done it. Your friends have done it. Procrastination is a fact of life when it comes to school and work. It is such a common factor among students of all ages and something I’ve struggled with for a long time. So, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite tricks to beat procrastination and stay on top of my classwork.
1. Realize that it’s not the end of the world.
There’s a reason that you chose to enroll in a college class. If you’ve made it this far, you must be smart enough to handle the workload. I have to tell myself something like that because college isn’t easy. Balancing five classes, work, and a social life is a genuine problem for most college students. What makes me feel better is knowing that I’m not the only one suffering. Once a week, my friends and I will eat dinner together. We play games and discuss what’s going on through the week. Normally, it turns into an hour-long ranting session about a teacher or the school or politics. It’s nice to have those moments to remember that I’m not the only one suffering and that thousands of students have survived college before me.
2. Get out of bed.
My desk is rather small at Rogers, and my laptop takes up most of the workspace. I rarely, if ever, have room for my textbook. To solve this problem, I’ve taken to doing my homework in my bed. It’s more comfortable to sit there and work. I can have my notebook, textbook, rubric, and laptop within reach without feeling crowded. However, this creates another issue for me. By doing homework in bed, I am right in front of the TV and get distracted easily. I also have a tendency to lay my head down and fall asleep because my bed is just too comfortable. Other students likely have this problem too. So, if your desk is an issue, I recommend doing homework on the floor or couch or table instead of going to your bed.
3. Keep a planner AND keep it updated.
Most professors prefer to open the first class of the semester with reviewing the syllabus. If your professors are kind (like most of mine), they will also include a detailed list of the assignment deadlines and test dates. If you’re smart, you’ll put all of those dates in a planner to keep yourself on track. I made the mistake of buying a physical planner for my freshman and sophomore years of college, which I updated at the start of each semester. However, I fell into the habit of forgetting to check it and it gathered dust on my desk. To solve this problem, I’ve switched to an online planner this semester and it has made my life so much easier. The one that I use is called MyStudyLife, which keeps track of assignment due dates, and also sends notifications to my phone every day.
4. Pre-write your essays.
People have a hard time believing that I hate writing essays more than any other class assignment because I am a writer. I write a 200+ word article every week, on top of the writing I choose to do for fun. Why would I hate writing essays? I cannot sit down and write a 5-page essay in three hours like I can write an article. It’s too boring. To get around this problem, I use a technique called pre-writing. I set up my Word Document (because no one handwrites essays anymore) and detail each point I want to make. I add placeholders for references that I want to include, as well as write the introduction and conclusion. With everything laid out, I can save the document and come back to it whenever I want. I only have to focus on one section each time I open the essay until it’s finished. It makes the task less daunting and easier to finish.
5. Take a break.
I’m sure that you’re thinking ‘if I waited until the night before to do an assignment, why would I need a break.’ Surprise! I have an answer for that. Homework, especially large assignments, are daunting tasks for anyone to complete. There’s only so long that you can stare at a computer screen or piece of paper before it starts frustrating you. There’s nothing wrong with setting it aside for anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour, as long as you remember to go back to it. During your break, do not turn on your phone or take a nap. Those are the easiest ways to get distracted from the task at hand and make things worse when you return to it. It’s a hard skill to master, but a good one to have during long projects or assignments.
6. Put your phone away.
Technology runs our lives, and it’s hard to cut the cord when it’s time to work. I’m guilty of it too. I’ll say ‘let me check Facebook’ before I get started and, without fail, my laptop is discarded for the next few hours while I play on my phone. To solve this problem, I will open YouTube on the TV and use my phone as a remote. I always put on videos that serve as good background noise, like ongoing political commentary, or video tutorials that have good white noise. I know that if I close the app on my phone, I’ll lose control of what I’m watching because I keep the remote in my desk drawer. This serves as an incentive to leave my phone alone unless I’m changing the video. I don’t know if this works for everyone, but it works great for me.
7. Turn it into a night with friends.
It’s safe to assume that you’re not the only one of your friends without homework. Usually, everyone has one assignment that they’ve been putting off because it’s too hard or too boring. If you’re like me, the last thing you want is to be alone while working. This is why my friend Abbi and I will spend our weekends together doing homework. We both live a significant distance from home, so we’re often the only ones in our friend group on campus. Doing homework together while binge-watching Netflix is how we chase away those lonely feelings and get something done. Abbi is also great when it comes to keeping me accountable when we’re working on homework, reminding me that an assignment is due in thirty minutes that I’ve been putting off.
Do you have any tips or tricks that help you get on task? Feel free to share them below.