What would you say is stopping you the most from being successful in school? Teachers who have their favorites? Jealous pupils? No. It’s procrastination. You can’t imagine how many days I’ve procrastinated writing this post and how much time I’ve spent on the internet looking at procrastination memes to prepare to write this text.
I’m sure every one of you has procrastinated at least once, whether it was doing homework, studying for a test or cleaning your room. Right now I am procrastinating studying for my Maths exam, because this text is actually due next week, but my Maths exam is on Friday. So, you can actually procrastinate by being productive.
You can say that I am very organized, I always hand in my homework on time and my grades are good as well. But you can also say that I tend to do things last minute, which is totally annoying and cost me a lot of valuable time to sleep.
I never used to be a big procrastinator, until one or two years ago, when I started studying for tests (in subjects like History or Chemistry) the day before. Sometimes because we have lots of tests and exams in short periods of time, but sometimes because I just couldn’t get myself to study. This happens to me all the time: Let’s say I have a Biology test on Wednesday and it’s Monday. I know I won’t have much time tomorrow, because I have a sports class and I will have to do homework. I sit at my desk, scrolling through YouTube or Tumblr on my computer and I can’t make myself stop. And even if I open my Biology notebook and read through the pages, we have to know for the test, I can’t really focus on them. This might sound like I have a problem, but I just prefer to study under pressure. Definitely not for a Maths or French exam, but for subjects in which you have to know lots of pages of information, I can remember things much better when I’m under time pressure. Then the day before the test, I even wait until 6 P.M. so I really have pressure to study under. Crazy, right?
I found a definition for procrastination online on a page called ‘Wait But Why’:
pro-cras-ti-na-tion |prəˌkrastəˈnāSHən, prō-|
the action of ruining your own life for no apparent reason
On the same page I also found a great comparison: Your brain is controlled by a miniature of yourself with a steering wheel. In addition to that, procrastinators have a little monkey in there, which sometimes just grabs the steering wheel away from you and does whatever he wants. He takes you to the ‘Dark Playground’, where you do activities like constantly refreshing your Instagram feed, stalking somebody on Facebook or having a look in the fridge to make sure nothing new has appeared in the last 5 minutes. And the only thing that can make the monkey stop is the panic monster. If you only have a short amount of time left to finish your assignment or whatever you need to do, it will come and scare the hell out of the monkey until he’s gone and you can finally get to the steering wheel again.
While doing work, I like to take lots of breaks, which are important. On a page called Inc.com, I read that you can reach ‘perfect productivity‘ by working for 52 minutes and then taking a break for 17. For me, 52 minutes is too long to study and I think that 35 minutes of studying and a 15 minute break is best. Even better would be studying a little longer and taking a longer break outside. Just try not to spend all your breaks on the Internet, which can easily keep you distracted for more than 15 minutes.
There is also a really cool app called: Pomodoro, on which you choose a task you want to work on and start the timer (25 minutes). You work until it rings and then you’re allowed to take a 5-minute break. When you have done 4 ‘pomodori‘ you can take a longer break (15-30 minutes). I think it’s a helpful app because you can see and compare your progress over a three day period.
But what to do about procrastination? I did some research and here are some tips:
- Seriously, get yourself a planner! I never thought there were people our age without a planner to write down all their assignments. But there are. Trust me, get yourself a planner, whether it is a totally normal one, a stylish one which looks like it belongs to the CEO of a design company or a pink one with lots of unicorns. A planner makes life so much easier.
- Make a ‘to-do-list‘ for everything. It feels so much better to see what you have to do on one sheet of paper and be able to tick it off or, even better, cross it out when you’re finally done.
- If all the planning above isn’t enough, then make a strict schedule of what to do when. It is super important not to overwhelm yourself, because this won’t get you anywhere.
- If you have a huge project due, divide up your work into small pieces and manage it in a time table like the one above.
- When you’re done with your homework or with one part of an assignment take a break and do something you like. Go outside, eat, listen to music, … try to free your mind from all that school stuff, so you can focus even better afterwards.
CLEAR AWAY DISTRACTIONS
- Try to keep your study space as clean as possible and only keep necessary things on your desk.
- Never study while in front of the TV.
- Switch off your computer screen so you won’t be distracted by every new email.
- When you remember something else you have to do while studying, just write it on a post it, so you won’t have to worry about forgetting it again.
I hope these tips will help you somehow, I think making a ‘to-do-list’ is the best thing you can do to get work done easily.
I think that nowadays, with all the things we can do to entertain ourselves, it’s hard to concentrate on what’s important to do right away. I mean, there’s the internet, there’s books, there’s TV, there’s video games, there’s Playmobil… No, seriously, if we didn’t have WIFI or any distractions in the place where we do our homework, we would have so much time for whatever we wanted after we were done with homework. But then again, doing homework without an online translator is hard as well, right?
I hope you didn’t read this to procrastinate doing your homework,