Oh, you have an essay due tomorrow? Well, I guess now is the perfect time to clean your room. Or maybe you will finally go to the gym or take a nap. Whatever your choice, you have succumbed to the inevitable procrastination of your college career. Even if you are someone who believes your time management skills are top notch, you are sure to have experienced procrastination at one point or another.
It all starts with the assignment: That essay isn’t due for two weeks. I have plenty of time. But alas, a week passes and you suddenly remember you have an essay due in a week. Well, a week is plenty of time. I don’t need to start it yet. And there you are, two days before your essay is due, with a Word document open on your laptop and just your name typed. So you think, It’s an easy topic. I can just do it tomorrow. Tomorrow rolls around and you marathon that essay starting at 8 p.m. with your trusty sidekick, Mr. Coffee.
Go ahead and make yourself a promise to not procrastinate next time. Then rinse and repeat.
But how exactly would you go about avoiding your procrastination habits? Here’s a list of ten ways we procrastinate and how to pull yourself together and avoid the evil cycle.
With thousands of options available, ranging from cheesy chick flicks to gory battle movies and foreign films, Netflix has a plethora of procrastination choices. It’s not easy to watch one episode of a show and get back to work. That’s like saying you can eat just one potato chip. You click on an episode of “Parks & Recreation” and before you know it, it’s 1 a.m.
How to Avoid It: The simplest way to avoid the black hole of Netflix is to not start watching. Use Netflix as a reward for finishing your homework instead of a break in between doing work.
College students are busy people. You have classes, a job, sports and extracurricular activities. It is easy to let yourself run on 4-5 hours of sleep a night so you can do everything that needs to be done. When you have homework to do, your eyes seem to burn a little bit more than usual and the couch or bed becomes all too enticing. Those moments you pass out mid-pencil stroke at your desk don’t fit into this category.
How to Avoid It: You need sleep and that could mean a nap is essential in the middle of your day. Plan ahead if possible and set more than one alarm to make sure you wake up with time to spare for work. Try to limit your nap to less than 90 minutes. If you can, get at least 7 hours of sleep each night! It is okay to get 4 hours of sleep every once in a while, but don’t make a habit of it.
You check your newsfeed each time you go on your phone, but take a much more dedicated interest when you have time-sensitive obligations to attend to. Who knew reading through Betty White’s posts could be so interesting? Or maybe you are one of the five people still on Farmville. You may also need to flood your friends’ notifications with as many Candy Crush requests as possible. Whichever the case, you just looked at the clock and realized you were on Facebook for two hours.
How to Avoid It: If you can’t live without Facebook for more than an hour, go ahead and check your newsfeed. Let yourself have 15-20 minutes to read status updates and comment on a Weird Al Yankovic video. Another way to feed the addiction is to check Facebook on your phone while walking around on campus, but log out (Yes, log out all the way) when you have work to do. That way, if your thumb meanders to your phone while writing your essay, Facebook won’t pop up right away on the Internet.
4. Working Out
Working out is good for your health, so it’s easy to not feel guilty when using a workout to avoid your obligations. You sit there, staring at your textbook, and mindlessly reach to your box of animal crackers. Your hand finds it empty, so you stare and think about how you ate a zoo’s worth of innocent crackers. You think, “Wow. I should probably go to the gym.”
How to Avoid It: Luckily for Gannon students, the Recreation Center has new treadmills with desks attached to them! You can still get a light workout in while working on your laptop or writing out an assignment. Most of the cardio equipment is equipped with a mini ledge you can use to prop up your notes and study while working out, too!
5. Video Games
Whether you have a Playstation, Xbox or the Nintendo 64, your gaming life is great at beating homework on the priorities list. Logically, you know homework is more important, but you still need to reach your ultimate goal of becoming a Zen Master. Then maybe that guy you battled last week will think twice about saying you fight like a dairy farmer.
How to Avoid It: Don’t you dare pick up that remote. If you know you will get sucked into your virtual world, it would be best to go nowhere near that console. If you can’t resist, go to the library or the power room to work on your assignments, which eliminates the possibility of wandering over to your video games.
Pinterest hosts an enormous amount of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) projects, ranging from making a skirt to how to make a lemon into a candle. So never fear, doomsday preppers! As long as you have plenty of fresh lemons on hand, you will have light! You roam through Pinterest and keep re-pinning nifty ideas. An hour or so later, you find yourself smearing toothpaste on your fingernails to see if it really gets rid of nail polish stains, much to the confusion of your roommate. But behold, it (kind of) works!
How to Avoid It: Similar to Facebook, you should log yourself out whenever you leave the site (and don’t have your username and password saved!). If you are a Pinterest Junkie, set it as a reward for finishing your work. Otherwise, you will find yourself halfway done with homework but neck deep in Cajun recipes.
Your intentions were so innocent at first. You needed a break from studying and you just wanted to see the music video for “Uptown Funk.” Next, you watch a parody of it, then you trail to more parodies. Soon, two hours have passed and you are watching He-Man lip sync to the Four Non Blondes hit “What’s Up.”
How to Avoid It: The easiest way to avoid a marathon run of YouTube videos is to not walk past the starting line. If you know yourself as someone who will continue binge watching videos, don’t let your study break involve YouTube.
Usually, you don’t mind the clutter. Why make your bed if you are just going to sleep in it again? Dust? Doesn’t bother you. Then you have a tedious project to work on and all of the sudden, you’re cleaning and organizing with more enthusiasm than Richard Simmons in his “Disco Sweat” workout video.
How to Avoid It: It may seem like a crazy notion, but the best way to avoid cleaning temptation is to keep your room consistently neat. That way, there is nothing left to clean while doing your homework. Realistically, though, your room isn’t going to stay pristine. Take your diligent work sessions to your building’s lounge or the library.
9. Chilling with Friends
You need a healthy balance of a social life versus your class and homework time. But when you are working on an essay and your friend texts you, “Where you at?” you quickly respond and soon, you are four blocks away from your backpack.
How to Avoid It: Hanging out with your friends is way more entertaining than doing schoolwork, so it’s understandable to use your friends as a way to procrastinate. But you can live without your friends for a few hours while your finish your write-up on what the shadows represent in the “Allegory of the Cave.”
10. Online Shopping
You are sifting through online scholarly journals when you see an ad on the side of the screen. You remember that you need to order a new pair of shoes for the gym, so you decide to start shopping online, because hey, why not? Your web browser is already open. A week later, you get a package with not only your shoes, but a Chewbacca seatbelt cushion (even though you don’t own a car) simply because it looked awesome. You may have gotten a low grade on that assignment, but at least in two years when you might be able to afford a car, you will be the coolest driver on State Street.
How to Avoid It: It’s okay to do a little virtual window shopping where you fill your online cart and then exit the website, but don’t get carried away. If you have an assignment you actually need done, do it before you start your homework to help resist temptation. Also, remind yourself that you have student loans that can’t be paid for with Chewbacca seatbelts.