Advice Column: The Pitiful Procrastinator

Updated: Jan 21, 2019

Author: Ariella Zagorsky

Gif courtesy of Giphy

“Hi! I’m at the end of my freshman year, and I’m not a bad student. Since a young age, I’ve always been dedicated to my schoolwork and got above average grades.But recently, with the classes I’m taking getting harder and harder, I tend to procrastinate more. It’s not really me not knowing how to start, it’s more of me getting distracted, watching a youtube video and then suddenly being pulled down a four hour wormhole. I’m really worried, because next year I’m going to start taking even harder classes! What should I do to minimize my procrastinating?”

-The Pitiful Procrastinator

Hi “Pitiful Procrastinator”! Thanks for being our first advice submission! Just a quick introduction; my name is Ariella, and I’m nearing the end of my sophomore year. I faced the same issues last year, and I can attest to how easy it is to be caught in the wormhole of procrastination. Over the last year though, I have definitely acquired some tips and tricks on how to motivate yourself to get your work done, and then maybe watch that youtube video a bit later. I’m going to list a couple of the tricks that work for me, and I’ll also add some others; different methods work for different people!

1: Get away from the phone

I love my phone, and I often go from opening one snapchat to being 300 weeks down in some friend’s cousin’s Instagram feed. However, this isn’t the best for my work habits. I think that the absolute best thing to do in this situation is give your phone to a friend or guardian, or at least put it in a different room, while study. Yes, you can turn it off or put it on “do not disturb”, but having your phone in your room increases the level of temptation to just pick it up. I also use an app called “Forest”. It does cost a bit of money on the App Store, but I think it’s definitely worth it. It lets you set an amount of time in which you won’t touch your phone, and if you last, it grows a little tree in your garden! You also get coins, and if you earn a certain amount you can grow a real tree. It’s a great app that really incentivizes you to get off your phone and get studying.

2: Get a new study spot

If you’re studying in your bedroom, you’re doing it wrong. Your brain associates your room with falling asleep, so you may get more tired when studying there. Also, this affects your sleeping habits; your bedroom should be only associated with sleep, otherwise your sleep can be more restless. Additionally, a clean room leads to a clean mind. Your study space being clean and organized helps you think clearer and your mind work better.

3: Find a friend

Depending on who it is, having a friend study with you can be extremely beneficial or exactly the opposite. You have to find someone who will stay on-task and make sure you stay focused. Studying with your best friend may just get you more distracted, so make sure you pick your study partner carefully! It may be better to get a study group, so that you can ask each other questions and explain to one another.

4: Take a break and treat yourself

No matter who you are, there is only a certain amount of time that you can focus. If you set reasonable goals, your brain will feel like it’s easier to achieve the tasks. I recommend using the “pomodoro” method, where you do work for twenty-five minutes straight, and then take a break. During the break, don’t go on electronics or anything you may get addicted to. Instead, go talk to a family member or friend, or go eat a snack. Make sure you reward yourself for achieving your goal, it gives you even more of an incentive. Also, taking a break to exercise or get a fresh air may help you get work done more efficiently and faster.

Hopefully some of these tips help! Email with anything you want advice for!

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