Finals week is here.
After translating your entire economics, psychology, English Lit and biology textbooks into color-coded outlines weeks beforehand, you construct a foolproof “Finals Week Schedule,” complete with group study sessions and your professors’ office hours. From there, finals week is organized bliss, leaving you time to write three drafts of your Lit essay, talk to your econ professor about extra credit and get a head start on your psychology thesis.
You choose to ignore said horizon until you’re about to crash onto the rocky shore. This is mainly due to the fact that it takes the force of Jesus Christ himself to pack your backpack and walk to the library more than 24 hours before your first exam. Once panic sets in, your first “study session” is comprised of 75 percent Facebook stalking and 25 percent actual studying.
When you pour into bed at 4 a.m., you realize you’ve reorganized your Pinterest boards, scrolled through 56 pages of whatshouldwecallme.tumblr.com (caution: mindless entertainment) and educated yourself on the mating practices of the pygmy goat. You have yet to crack open a textbook.
It’s official—you’ve hit rock bottom. Despite your best intentions, you’ve turned to procrastination like a welcome friend bearing gifts of binge eating and Netflix marathons.
Instead of inadvertently allowing Angry Birds to derail a semesters’ worth of work once again, follow these tips and quit procrastination cold turkey:
1. Understand It
(Disclaimer: don’t use this as an excuse to fall into a Googling black hole. I’m way ahead of you). Beat procrastination with knowledge:
-Biologically, procrastination is the battle between the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex, i.e. instant gratification and rational decision-making.
-The limbic system is what tells you to pull your hand away from a flame—it’s automatic. The prefrontal cortex is a newer, weaker part of the brain, and one of the only parts separating humans from animals.
-The prefrontal cortex must be kicked into gear, which takes work. The moment you’re not engaged, the limbic system takes over. Beating procrastination means putting in enough work to skirt the impulsive limbic system.
2. Beat Yourself at Your Own Game
If you’re a true procrastinator, you’ll even resort to slight discomfort as an excuse to put off tasks. Beat yourself to the punch by cultivating the perfect study atmosphere that even your procrastinating-self will have a hard time finding fault in.
Reach for the perfect playlist, your favorite set of felt-tip pens, light snacks, comfortable clothing and your choice of caffeinated beverage before heading to your go-to study spot. Prefer background noise? Try this “ambient mixer” site to concoct the perfect atmosphere (it can even recreate studying at Hogwarts. Holla at my wannabe Wizards).
With all excuses exhausted, you’re more apt to actually open a textbook and scrawl “Econ 201 Outline” on a piece of paper. The procrastinator in you knows that this is a big deal.
As for the actual studying…
3. Turn the Enemy into the Ally
I’m a firm believer in a controlled use of temptations. Cutting out social media entirely is just unrealistic. Instead, leverage your favorite distractions in a way that will benefit you. Train the animalistic limbic system like your family dog.
I developed the tactic of allowing myself a half an hour of “free” time per three chapters outlined. Once the outline was completed, I allowed myself more free time by studying said outline front-to-back three times. In the end, those cherished moments of mindless Facebooking were my livelihood (and my ticket to a decent GPA).
4. If Nothing Else Works…
Start at square one and identify the reason behind your procrastination. Do you see cramming as a challenge/thrill? Or are you genuinely dreading the task? Maybe you’ve procrastinated for so long that the amount of work you have to do is daunting.
Whatever the case may be, being up front with yourself is the first step in getting to the root of the problem and finding the right solution. From there, try employing these productivity hacks to get the ball rolling. Best of luck, my fellow slackers.
Any procrastination tips of your own? Spread the wealth. Leave a comment below or catch up with us on Facebook.