GRACIE TURNER '25
How to Avoid Procrastination . . . Now!
“I’ll get right on it...” said no one ever. Despite our efforts, many of us fail to stay on task during school or at home. You may wonder why our brains wander. The human brain is susceptible to avoiding tasks that are boring, challenging, or frustrating. According to The New York Times, procrastination is “a way of coping with challenging emotions and negative moods induced by certain tasks.” Procrastination is not laziness. When you are presented with a challenging obstacle amongst simple duties, your brain ponders this obstacle and eventually gives up. This can lead to late or missing assignments, disorganization, and stress.
So, how can we avoid procrastination?
Self-awareness is the first step to avoiding procrastination. When you hold yourself accountable for your actions, you are more likely to correct them the next time. Also, be mindful of the positive things you do to stay on track.
Analyze your environment.
The environment in which you work plays an important role in productivity level. If you are in a busy space with numerous people or loud noises, these distractions draw your attention away from the task at hand. A quiet space with minimal distractions is ideal. Many people (including myself) tend to study in their bed or around their room. Scientists say that separating work from your personal life is ideal. If you work in your bed, it associates work with down time, further leading to a decrease in sleep quality. Instead, opt for your kitchen table, local coffee shop, or an outdoor space.
Keep an organized space.
Keeping an organized space is scientifically proven to help stay on track. A clean workspace is crucial to getting things done. Put all materials and items not relevant to the task at hand away. This can include setting your phone further away from you to resist the temptation to scroll through social media or text friends. The more distractions you are presented with, the less focus you will have.
Prioritize your work.
Create a to-do list on your phone or laptop in order from most to least important. Then check off assignments as you go. This provides a visual aid to help validate that you are being productive and completing your work. For example, before going to bed, create a to-do list or reminder list planning how you are going to spend your free time.
Along with prioritizing your work comes setting goals and deadlines. You don’t want to be up at 6 AM working on an assignment that is due at 8 AM. Set a goal to get assignments done early, or at the very least, the night before they are due. Don’t forget to reward yourself (within reason) when you feel it is deserved. This could be anything from giving yourself a break to watch your favorite show on Netflix or buying yourself a drink from Starbucks.
Block out your time.
Blocking out your time is a great tool if you are on a tight schedule or have an extracurricular you are involved in. There are many websites and apps with free downloadable time-blocked schedules, or you can make your own. Here are some examples of time-block schedules. For productive mornings, try setting out everything the night before to ensure a smooth start to your day. For example, before I go to bed I set out my uniform for school, charge my laptop, and set out my backpack/lunchbox.
There are many websites and apps that can assist you in your productivity, my favorites being Notion, Google Calendar, and Google Keep. Notion is an all-in-one workspace for all your personal and academic needs, not to mention that it is completely customizable and free. You can take class notes, create to-do lists, develop budget plans, track habits, and much more. With hundreds of templates to choose from, there’s no need to worry about being disorganized! Google Calendar is a great tool if you like to see everything you have to do on a large scale. On my Google Calendar, I add club meetings, shadow days, assignments, tests, and outside events. This is a great tool to stay on top of your assignments. Lastly, Google Keep is a site that allows you to take small notes and add reminders. Google Keep has a simple layout with minimal distractions. All three of these websites have mobile apps so that you can work on the go too!
These tools are crucial to being productive, staying focused, and reaching your goals. Modify your routine and thought process with the help of some of these organizational tactics and you will reap the benefits. Now go do your homework!