A College Student’s Guide to (Productive) Procrastination

“Okay. Let’s just check my newest tweets and see if anyone wrote on my wall, and then I’ll start on that paper.” Sound familiar? Next thing you know, it’s 4:23 AM and you’ve successfully sent 34 new friend requests, gone through 40 different photo albums from Fall Break 2008, and memorized every interest that the cute guy in your Bio class listed on his Facebook.

If you’re anything like me, you probably look like this during finals week:

(image courtesy of Hyperbole and a Half, one of my favorite blogs that you should totally check out next time you’re supposed to be writing a paper)

For college students, procrastination is generally inevitable. As the Reigning Queen of Procrastination I can’t truthfully write an article on how to avoid putting things off, but I can share some great tips on how to be productive while you’re ignoring your research paper and pretending that Biology final isn’t actually happening in 12 hours. So temporarily de-activate your Facebook, get a friend to change your Twitter password, and give these things a try:

  • Make a list. Something about putting things on paper makes them a little more real, so write out everything you need to get done. And not just for school! Need to feed your mom’s cat? Promised a friend you’d let them borrow the new FIFA ‘12? Realize you’re running low on milk? Write them all down. Even if it’s just checking your mailbox, seeing things marked off the list after you finish them make the big projects appear more approachable.
  • Organize. Even though my natural response was to roll my eyes and gag, my mother’s saying of “A structured desk is a structured mind” is surprisingly true. Take a few moments to tidy up your work area: it’ll kill time, plus all your pens and highlighters will be easily found when you finally start!
  • Clean. There is a direct correlation between how clean my room stays and how many papers I have in a semester. Do some laundry, throw out all your trash, and make your roommates happy!
  • Exercise. Honestly, I procrastinate with working out just as much as I do with school. But a 200 question final suddenly makes 45 minutes on the elliptical sound like heaven, so take a deep breath, make that four minute walk to the Plex, and get some endorphins to help stay awake during your inevitable all-nighter. (Fun idea: Bring your notes and study while you run. All the cool kids do it!)
  • Keep in touch. Instead of creepy stalking sessions on Facebook, pick up your phone and make some calls! Whether it’s your family, best friend back home, or that boy from summer camp in 7th grade, stop texting and actually have conversations with the people in your life. It’s important to maintain good grades, but healthy relationships are just as necessary.

But whatever you do, try not to become this person.

-Lauren White, Lil Miss Procrastination Princess 1996

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