Welcome to Procrastination Station!

If you’re like me and find anything to do other than what you’re supposed to be doing, then welcome aboard my train departing from procrastination station first stop anxiety and on to guilt and self-destruction. I will be your captain for this evening, and I am a 22-year-old recovering procrastinator.

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The very idea of this blog post came to me while I was distracting myself from coming up with an idea to write this very post…ironic I know! From my summer exams first year in secondary school to my final year of university I have always been somewhat of a procrastinator. The very definition of procrastination in the oxford dictionary is “the action of delaying or postponing something.” I will always find an excuse to delay an assignment or revision to the last possible moment. Disclaimer, not a good idea!!

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I always start with good intentions for the day don’t get me wrong. First step setting an alarm and getting up when it goes off which is the first success of the day which I feel I need a reward for so before I can open my laptop, I check all social media accounts. Down the stairs to the kitchen sit down with my still closed laptop but before I start anything I need revision fuel. Time for breakfast which takes longer than it should, stare at the laptop for a few seconds and then remember I need to shower because how could I possibly do any work if I didn’t feel clean. Off to the shower dry my hair, straighten my hair, moisturise maybe paint my nails while I’m here. Look around my not so tidy room and how could I concentrate on my work knowing this mess is here. Time for some spring cleaning after all tidy house tidy mind. (However, this life motto only seems to apply to me when I have a deadline due.) Now finally back downstairs sitting at the kitchen table laptop fully charged notepad open and pencils sharpened. But then I look down to my doggo staring back up at me and it’s such a nice day outside how could I not take him for a walk?? So an hour around the country side taking in the scenery and it really works up your appetite and just in time for my bestie to txt wondering if we should take a break from all the work we haven’t be doing and go out for a coffee, how could I refuse? Before I know it it’s 9 o’clock in the evening and we’re sitting by the fire waiting on I’m A Celebrity to start and there’s no work being done once Ant and Dec come on.

So, you get the idea and forgetting specifics can anyone else relate to a day like this? This added stress is not good for your mental health especially when it’s self-inflicted and can be 100% avoided, so I decided to do some research and come up with a few tips to help. Some of you might be thinking this is just another way of procrastinating to get me out of starting my assignments and some of you would be exactly right but at least if I know what causes it, I might be able to beat it. Here’s what I found:

There are 4 types of procrastinators.

  1. Anxious procrastinators.
  2. Fun procrastinators.
  3. Plenty of time procrastinators.
  4. Perfectionist procrastinators.

Anxious procrastination which is self-torture is when you are doing something but feeling guilty about it. Watching a tv series and not being able to enjoy it because you know you should be doing work but continue to watch anyway.

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Fun procrastination, going out with your friends at the weekend when you have an assignment in for the Monday but you’re young and should be out socialising with your peers, so you somehow always seem to justify it.

Plenty of time procrastination. “Well my exams not for another two weeks if I revise something now, I’ll not remember it come the time so best leave it another few days.”

Perfectionist procrastination is when the thought of not being able to produce the best possible work is to over-whelming to even start at all.

We’ve all fallen into one or more of these brackets and some stage. I know I’ve had experiences of all four but now we know what they are we might be able to overcome them.

Tips for overcoming procrastinating and hopping of the train for good:

  • The 10-minute rule – starting something can be half the battle and once you get over the first hurdle you get the momentum to keep going. The thought of sitting down to hours of work can fill with you with dread, so one way of overcoming it is to not sit down to hours of work. Set yourself a time to only do 10 minutes straight. I find once I’ve got the first 10 minutes done, I get into the swing of things and end up getting much more done than planned.
  • Take regular breaks – if you’re a newly recovering procrastinator this may take some more practise but taking short well-deserved breaks for a cup of tea or a walk can be beneficial in clearing you mind and letting new thoughts and ideas flow to you. Just make sure to return to put these ideas to paper!
  • Get rid of any distractions – social media can be your best or worst enemy but it’s up to you to decide. If you are a constant checker of your phone like me a two-minute break on social media can easily turn into 2 hours. For this I would recommend the app “FLORA”. It is a free app that helps you stay focused by setting timers when you’re supposed to be doing work and it doesn’t let you use any of the other apps on your phone. If you succeed it plants a virtual tree in your garden and after a good days work you can have a lovely plant-filled garden or if you fail a dead sad looking reminder of how easily you can be distracted. I don’t like to lose, and my competitive side comes out and helps me stick to the timer. Also, to help the environment the app gives you the option for a small fee to plant the trees you have in your virtual garden in real life. It’s a win-win, a first class honours in your degree and you save the planet. (Maybe slightly over-exaggerated but a good app none the less.)

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  • Make a schedule: making a timetable of when to do university work and fitting it around your part time job and socialising helps make things more organised. Having social time to look forward to is a good motivator to get your work done in the allocated time. Having a schedule of when your work is due and when to do what makes the workload seem a lot less scary and more doable.

As a recovering procrastinator I found these tips the most helpful for me to help overcome this thing that was keeping me back. On a lot less dramatic note this helps you feel less stressed about final year. It can be hard enough as a final year student so being organised can cut your stress levels by half. If you need me for any more ideas you can reach me on my website lastminute.com

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Mary Keenan is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster university. She can be found on Instagram: mary_keenan20 or Twitter: mary_keenan_.