I don’t know about you but I’ve always been a procrastinator, I was born 2 weeks late so quite literally, from birth. When it came to essays and revision in school I’d always get distracted, just one more episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo turned into an afternoon of staring at the TV and then an evening of searching Mamma June – where is she now? (a dramatic weight loss and a heart breaking split from Sugar Bear – in case you’re wondering). And I always did OK at school, I was always OK with what I was achieving so I just carried on being a solid B student. When I got to my second year of university I began actually realising what I could do when I sat down and got myself together. I started to imagine ‘wait, I could actually do this’. So what are my secret to kicking my procrastination habits? Some might seem obvious but honestly give them a go and alter them to what works for you.
Find your rhythm
I always worked on a 9-5 basis and I found it difficult but thought that’s just what I needed to do and I’d finish at 5 thinking I hadn’t got much done at all and feel a bit demotivated. Then I started to work at around 12, I would wake up fairly late, go to the gym and cook up a breakfast and start my day a little later, I found then I would work until 10/11 at night because I felt much more energised and got a lot more done.
Reward yourself for milestones/ word counts rather than time
It’s the absolute classic hourly break that you start counting down to half an hour before it comes, you end up just checking the time every five minutes then going on your phone and procrastinating until the hour hits. Then you can say you’ve earned yourself AT LEAST an hour where you end up refreshing Instagram and stalking people you haven’t seen since year 8.
Instead, give yourself a break after every 500/1000 words. It means you a) don’t waste time counting down to it and b) actually deserve a break. This takes me neatly onto my next tip…
Word hard, break hard
When I say ‘take a break’, don’t just sit in your chair watching videos or listening to music, actually get up and leave the room. It’s best to keep your work space and your fun space separate so when you take a break, go to watch some TV in the living room for half an hour or go for a walk. It’ll help you keep a good mind set when you get back to your desk and 60-70% of my main ideas came from walking through Roath Park – refresh yourself!
It sounds so simple but honestly, it’s one of the best things I did. I was never that organised, I had a notebook for every subject but that was it. In third year, I went full on hard core organisation mode. I just got a massive folder, a bunch of poly pockets (or “plastic pockets” if you’re posh), highlighters and a whole load of post-it notes.
I had friends who were super organised, they had clean rooms, they ironed (AND FOLDED) their clothes and wore matching socks every day. I tried their kind of workload organisation and it just didn’t work for me. Then I experimented and tried a load of different things, I found that I didn’t have to change much at all. I used my messy notes but just used coloured highlighters to organise it a little better, I also used those little coloured index stickers that look like arrows, LIFE SAVERS.
Make a timetable that is reasonable!! Don’t go saying you’ll smash out 3000 words on Thursday, if you can then amazing but most people just can’t do that and you shouldn’t expect it from yourself. Give yourself a couple of hours break a day and if you have to break it down like school so do a couple of hours of one module then move onto the next module, I know that when I was in uni I had about 5 modules that had essays due at the same time so that was helpful at times.
Also – invest in a big red pen to really cross out those essays when you’re done.
I started doing this at the end of second year, I had cruised through the year and finished on a solid mark I was happy with, but then as third year was looming so were thoughts of results day and graduation. Results day had been fine for me in the past, a good B student I was fairly happy, but always envied the people opening their envelope to find an A* in every subject, and they’d worked for it so why couldn’t I?
I started to really believe I could be one of the people opening their envelope to find a 1st– I tried not to think about it too much but I believed I could do it. The worst that could happen? Well I open it, find a grade I didn’t want but I knew I tried absolutely everything and worked myself to the limit. And I know that if I got a grade I didn’t want I’d think back to all those Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares USA episodes I was watching when I could have been doing work. This is all for you, so work for it!
I know uni seems like the most stressful time of your life but I was never an A* student and just by putting my head down and organising myself (something I had NEVER done before), I was able to be one of those people. I was the most disorganised person in the world so if there’s hope for me – there’s hope for anyone.