- Michael Schmidt, MHS
Yes, I Did Procrastinate on this Article
Yep, so here I am writing this article at 3:50 PM on January third. It is due in three days. I’m sitting at my desk wondering what the topic of this should be, because I want something that I wrote to be in the newspaper, but I have no idea of a topic. That's when it hit me. I should write a newspaper article helping others not to procrastinate like I did. Just so everyone is aware, the information I’m presenting is how I keep myself from staring off into space, not information that I researched, so welcome to your unofficial guide. Anyways, what brings me to step one is the fact that I actually thought of this article idea three hours ago, and then, I procrastinated.
Step 1: Recognize
In my opinion, this is the hardest part of the process. Getting started, standing up, and actually doing what you need to do is difficult. You are almost always telling yourself, one more Netflix episode that just so happens to be an hour long, or just 20 more minutes before I start my work. For me, just another minute of procrastination stretches into another hour, and then another, and then I’m sitting at my computer at midnight wondering how I’m supposed to write an essay. Once I finally do sit down at my computer and realize how much time I’ve wasted, I end up feeling pretty bad, which brings me to step two.
Step 2: Don’t Beat Yourself Up
When I realize how much time I wasted, naturally, I get upset with myself. I continue to think about all of that wasted time and, eventually, start to feel guilty. Not fun. Of the people I commiserated with, many reported the same feelings. During this time, my mind isn’t focused on the work and I end up wasting even more time, and now it’s two in the morning, and I’m still staring at this as of yet unwritten essay.
Reflecting on your own actions is important, but only to a certain extent. Moving forward is what will get you ahead. If you're too focused on your mistakes, you won’t be able to pay attention to the current decisions you have to make, leading to more mistakes. Just like that cliche coach at a tea ball game would say to a kid that just face planted, “dust yourself off and keep moving.”
Step 3: Remove Distractions/Get Comfortable
When I say this, I mean make sure that it’s distractions you can actually remove. Don’t throw your barking dog out a window or any of your siblings who keep walking into your room to annoy you or attempt to punch you (speaking from personal experience). One smaller way that you can do this is put your phone on a setting where you don’t get millions of text messages and calls. Iphones have a night shift setting for just such a purpose. Other brands a do not disturb. A tip that I received from a friend is to simply keep the phone out of the room until you finish the task at hand. Other tips include moving to another room if the one you are in is too loud. Simple changes like that will keep you more zeroed in on whatever task is at hand.
To continue, if you work best with bright lights, then turn on as many lights as you can before you get screamed at for the electrical bill. If you like to work in the dark, try and cut out lights until your eyes are like bats’ eyes. For me, personally, I work slightly better in the dark. Currently, I am writing this with one small lamp on and the windows open, since it’s already dark out at only 4:18. If you work better with music, plug in headphones, but if the music starts to distract you, and you end up paying more attention to what song is next on your playlist, put the headphones aside. Make yourself comfortable.
Step 4: Set Checkpoints/Goals
Your goals could be set for a very short period of time or for a very long period of time. If you have to finish a few different homework assignments by the next day, set imaginary goals for yourself, or even write them down on a post-it note. As an example: if you have basketball practice at eight, you would want to finish math by four, science by five, and world literature by six. For a more long-term scenario like writing an essay, you can set goals to ensure your progress over the course of a few days. Maybe, you want to finish the introduction by Monday, have your body paragraphs and conclusion by Thursday, and set Friday as a day solely for making edits and revisions. Setting goals for yourself will limit the workload, and prepare you for any other assignments that could be sprung on you. In other words, just spread the work out if needed, that is if you have time for it. Another quick add-on in relation to the ordering of these goals: it is always better to start with the more difficult work first when you have more “fuel,” and then afterwards, finish with the easier assignments.
Step 5: Finish
So now, I am finished with the essay at five in the morning, and this newspaper article has almost come to a conclusion. If I bored you to death, I’m sorry, and if any of these steps help, then give yourself a pat on the back when your work is done. In the end, don’t wait to do something that you could do now. Recognize when you are procrastinating and don’t just accept it. I know for a fact that at least half of the people that read this article have something that they are putting off for later that they could get done right now. Not only is it good to put in the hard work, but it is also good to congratulate yourself and make yourself feel good, so you’ll feel more encouraged to get work done sooner. I personally hope this was useful, and maybe it can help you not procrastinate like I did on this article.