Did you know that there is science behind why you procrastinated studying for midterms? Procrastination has affected everyone at some point in their lives and is especially noticeable during midterms or finals week when planning ahead usually pays off. If you consider yourself to be a procrastinator like I do, and find yourself submitting most assignments at 11:58 p.m., then times like this are particularly stressful. Sadly, planning ahead is not exactly our forte. I decided to do some research on this topic, and after many hours of watching TikToks and avoiding the task, I put together some tips on how to manage procrastination.
- Try meditation.
This might sound a little bit intimidating, but what I am suggesting is a very simple form of meditation known as mindfulness. In an article from the website Real Simple, Amy Spencer and Maggie Seaver describe it as “letting yourself become fully aware of what’s going on, both around you and within you at a given moment.” Procrastination is about your brain trying to avoid accomplishing a task for as long as possible, and the key to overcoming this is figuring out why. Taking the time to sit with yourself and examine why you are reading an article about conspiracy theories rather than writing the paper you have due in a few hours can help you get to the root of the issue. In my experience, procrastination comes along with a lot of anxiousness about starting an assignment, which is avoided with more procrastination. Using mindfulness to acknowledge these emotions, and then picturing the “positive results” of “actually getting our work done,” is what Judson Brewer MD, PhD suggests later in the article. This process can really help you see the benefits of getting started on your task, and help you get motivated past procrastinating.
- Capitalize on your good moods.
In an article from the Association For Psychology Science, author Eric Jaffe compiles a lot of useful research on procrastination, and many of the studies revealed that procrastination is closely linked to managing your emotions. A procrastinator is going to do what makes them feel good in the moment even if it will lead to negative emotions later on. One study found that “self-control only succumbs to temptation when present emotions can be improved as a result.” This means that the best time to work on projects is when you are feeling naturally happy and motivated. If you try to start a project when you are feeling down or tired, you will be much more likely to get distracted. Pick a time in the week or day when you know you typically have the most energy and are feeling at your best mood-wise to work on assignments. For example, I am a night owl, so I typically start assignments after dinner because that is when I am usually feeling my best.
3 Find the fun in what you are doing.
Fuschia Sirois from Bishop’s University said that his studies, which are also included in the article by Eric Jaffe, caused him to conclude that “the best way to eliminate the need for short-term mood fixes is to find something positive or worthwhile about the task itself.” If you need to get a task done, then try to make the experience as fun and fulfilling as possible. One suggestion that has worked for me is picking topics that I am genuinely interested in whenever it is possible. When that is not an option, then try to make the experience of doing work enjoyable in any way you can. Customize your environment to appeal to you. Listen to your favorite music while you work or take breaks to eat your favorite snack. This could also mean inviting over a study buddy, or FaceTiming one, to keep each other accountable and have fun while you work. Things like this can make assignments more tolerable and make you less likely to avoid them.
- Forgive yourself for procrastinating.
Procrastination is a continuous cycle that most students participate in. Studies have shown that beating yourself up over the issue will only make it continue. A study was included in the journal Personality and Individual Differences on this issue. It was centered on a group of university students and their procrastination while studying for their midterm exams. It was concluded that students who forgave themselves for procrastinating on one midterm, were more likely to break the habit for the next one. So, if you did procrastinate this time around, do not let it hold you back for the next round of finals in May. Look at finals as a whole new experience to tackle, rather than letting any procrastination guilt make you put off studying again.
Monica Ziegler is a third-year Communication Studies major with a minor in Journalism. MZ928023@wcupa.edu