Effective Procrastination for the College Student

“ There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do.”
― Bill Watterson

You have a perfectly crafted to-do list before you, perhaps a beverage of your liking to go with the task, and some music to keep your momentum going. All is well for about 20–30 minutes.

Soon enough, all your plans for a productive day are swallowed whole by the multitude of distractions within your arm’s reach. Guilt blankets the rest of your time and the work is, sadly, not done yet.

Most of us might have wondered about this common phenomenon, oh so much, only to repeat it so well. As a college student, sometimes, I feel like I work better under pressure, but I would like to grow to be better and more composed in my work ethic. Have you felt this way lately?

Here is an example of how I use my procrastination to add value to my time:

  • First, I let the procrastination do its thing. If I stay in denial and pretend that my mind is not wandering off, I’d be kidding myself. So, I start looking for a new desktop wallpaper or read a bunch of Calvin & Hobbes comics(motivational quotes!). A simple task such as changing your wallpaper or clearing your email inbox could leave you feeling like you completed a task.
  • At this point, I’ve actively recognized that I am procrastinating. I begin to pen down all of my goals, including the small things, that might seem unworthy of a spot, on a task list. This gives my clutter of thoughts a physical space to reside in. Plus, I don’t have to panic about forgetting something that I should get done.
  • Google to your benefit. While I procrastinated, I’ve googled about my career prospects, salary outlooks for certain jobs, potential graduate schools or articles that would pique my mind and get me fired up. There is some psychology that goes into this that gets you out of the tired zone and puts you in touch with your zealous side.
  • Then, I move on to clean up my study and organize my files or notes. This strategy has usually worked for me when I am faced with a not-so-exciting task. The way this part helps is that it focuses my mind and tricks me into thinking that I am actually getting work done. Progress.

The point is, all this while, I’ve not worked on my task, but my mind is being primed for some gung-ho work mode.

  • Subsequently, I place everything necessary to start my work in front of me. This includes my lecture notes, writing utensils and notebooks. My phone would be on silent in another room. The more accessible your useful resources, the more likely you are to stay on task.
  • At last, I begin.

Despite much of the time delays faced, it is possible to get some sort of work done while you procrastinate. Getting to the crux of what needs to be accomplished is now under your control as your mind has taken its ambitious persona. You CAN do this!