In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Wasted Days and Wasted Nights.”
Brought to you by the (at times) master of procrastination… who still manages to finish work and assessments a couple of days before the deadline. Expert in this particular area. You’re in good hands.
1. Don’t go on social media. Don’t do it. Just don’t.
I don’t care if you say that it’s just going to take five minutes, because five minutes will extend to ten minutes, then to an hour, and before you know it, three hours will have flown by. Got any assessment task deadlines looming over you? Got a LOT of catching up to do? Go hiatus and disconnect. It’s time for you to reconnect with your work.
2. Take breaks. SHORT breaks. Not ones that go on for half the day.
It’s important to take breaks when studying, otherwise you will see to a dramatic fall in productivity over time and I guarantee that by the end, everything you’ve read will have gone through one ear and out the other. In other words, your pitiful attempts to absorb information would have been absolutely useless. I don’t like setting particular time goals – i.e. 30 mins work, 10 mins break – although some people may find this quite useful. Rather, I set objectives in terms of the assignment I’m working on. For instance, I might say to myself: if I finish the introduction, I’ll take a walk downstairs and eat some food (food is a huge motivator for me). Another thing: don’t go on social media, watch television / YouTube videos or start reading a book during those short breaks. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO STOP. And even if you do manage to rip yourself away, you’ll still be thinking about them. Instead, grab a drink. Talk to someone nearby. Walk to the window and stare contemplatively out of it. Any of that is fine.
3. Juxtapose between easy and hard.
What I mean by that is, start with something easy, then go to a piece of work that is more challenging, then switch back to the easy work. Why? Well, if you finish all the easy stuff and are only left with a mountain of horror ahead, you’re hardly going to attempt the climb, are you now? Similarly, if you try and climb the mountain first, you’re going to give up after realising the (seeming) impossibility of it. So my advice? Turn that mountain into smaller mounds. Down, up, down, up, down, up. Easy, hard, easy, hard, easy, hard… Same concept.
4. Have a good night’s sleep.
So important. I cannot stress this enough. Sure, if your deadline is the very next day, then it’s inevitable: you’ll have to pull an all-nighter. But other than that, try to avoid sleeping past 1am. Because if you do that… One: your work will most likely be of lower quality than usual, and you’ll also find yourself rendered unproductive in those wee hours of the morning, i.e. mushy brain = mushy thoughts = no work done. Two: lack of sleep will mean that you’re most likely going to run of energy and brain power the very next day, and trust me, sleep deprivation is not a good ‘illness’ to catch. Think eye bags, a zombie-like face and a pounding headache. To avoid all of that, SLEEP EARLIER. Then when you wake up the next day (waking up early is good as well, this is generally the time you are most productive), proceed with reducing your workload.
5. Start early. The early bird catches the worm, or in this case, catches the good mark.
No more of that “I’ll start the assignment later”. Start now. Life is too short to wait any longer. My recommendation is: start two weeks (or around two weeks) prior. Not the actual assignment/studying, but the preparation for it, that is, doing the research, collating your notes and so on. They should be gradual tasks completed over a period of time, not a massive rock standing the way between you and victory. I know the procrastination part of you (which I’m guessing you have, since you’re reading this article?) will want to watch a couple of movies, read a few books and water some plants before you start (anything to delay having to start the assignment!)… don’t do that. Just start with something simple, like finding possible resources to use. If you want the good mark, you gotta earn it. Be that early bird and own it.
So that’s it. That’s how I’ve survived up to this day. I suppose my final (extra) tip is: it’s okay to procrastinate. Everyone at some stage in their lives will have done it. Just don’t over-procrastinate. Be smart about your time. Unless you have a time-turner or time machine, the time that’s gone is gone. All you have is left the time that lies ahead of you, so look forward and beat the procrastination before it beats you.