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_.

 

Back Like A Boomerang: 88 Days A Slave!

Here goes nothing, my first blog post as a final year /CMPR student. Should I discuss current affairs or celebrity gossip, perhaps many has words to say on the latest Coleen Rooney or Rebekah Vardy scandal. But what I want to share with you is my year away in Australia and how I survived 88 days on the farm to secure my Second Year Visa. MK4

Migrating to Australia at the opposite side of the world is becoming increasing popular so I can imagine there are a few of you who are reading this that have thought about trying it at some stage in your life and I hope you decide to do it.  

I spent the last 12 months of my life exploring what life is like down under. We hear so many stories about the Aussie way of life and I must admit it did not disappoint. However, 4 of these amazing months were spent working harder than I thought I could ever work to ensure that whenever I graduate, I will be able to spend another 12 months having more adventures in this country I was lucky enough to call home for a short while. 

To say these were the longest 88 days of my life is an understatement. Australian Immigration really make you work for your Second Year Visa that’s for sure and if I hadn’t of fallen so in love with this country, I would not have put myself through it. The common trend on Instagram #88daysaslave doesn’t paint the best picture of how this working holiday visa requirement can be undertaken. But in a way this is how it feels. Don’t let any of this put you off because the feeling when completing your last day cannot be described and to know that it gets you another 12 months makes it even better. This blog post is not meant to scare but to motivate. If you happen to find yourself in a similar position sitting in a corner somewhere in the outback wondering how in the world did you get yourself into this mess, trust me there is light at the end of the tunnel, or in my case light at the end of the fruit bin! 

I remember when we first walked up to this tiny house full of 30 girls in a strange little town called Shepparton, I was feeling overwhelmed, anxious and tired from our travels down from Sydney. We were giving a tour that took all of 30 seconds as that’s how long it took to get from one side of this little hut to the other.  The first few weeks were definitely the hardest, watching girls coming and going. I can remember being so jealous of the girls who were nearly at the end of their days and even more shocked to find that they were sad about finishing. A lot of the girls even stayed on a few more weeks than they had to. Not me I thought I’m straight out of here on day 88 and I am never looking back!!  

First day you are thrown straight into the deep end with the sharks. The deep end being the pear line and the sharks being the unemotional supervisors with zero people skills and very little English. Being screamed at all day to pack faster, faster all the while trying to pack only the first-class pears from a bin that ranged from your perfect pear to a month-old compass pile. They couldn’t seem to understand that you could have quantity or quality but both simultaneously at their standard was not humanly attainable. 

New workers in the shed are all put in yellow vests and once your fruit packing is off a certain standard you get promoted to an orange vest. Yellow vests had it tough. You were literally a walking high vis that said look at me I’m new and have no idea what I’m doing. Yellow vests were always the first to be sent home and last to get picked to work. But unless you worked you couldn’t improve your fruit packing skill to reach the level of an orange vest, and if you didn’t get your 35 hours of work in one week it doesn’t count towards your 88 days and it’s a week wasted. A viscous cycle and you can imagine how hard done by and mistreated we felt. There were days in the first few weeks where I had to really think is this worth it? Can I do this? Do I want another year in this country this badly? I’m glad that I am good at quieting the negative Nancy voice in my head listening more to positive Polly. I struggled through and pushed myself to the limit, every morning praying can today be the day? Can I become an orange vest? Day 32 I got pulled to the side expecting to get in trouble for having too many bad pears in my crate. Then I saw on the table an orange vest, could this be it?

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Mary you’ve earned your orange vest, now do me a favour and go faster.” (The nicest thing anyone in the shed had ever said to me believe it or not.) In a moment of joy all I could do was hug my supervisor forgetting that these people act more like robots than humans and show no loving emotions to anyone or anything. At that however I’m sure I caught a glimpse of a smile and quiet giggle followed by a stern “back to work.”  

I strutted back into the house showing off my new clean bright orange vest and you’d think I had just won a Grammy award with the cheers and support from the girls, and honestly that’s what it felt like.

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As the weeks went on, I felt myself settling into farm life more than I could have ever imagined. The friendships that I was forming in such short periods of time I never thought possible. The time away from civilisation, away from the busyness of Sydney and really time away from my normal human life, I had learned more about myself, and of the determination and strength I never knew I had until this experience. As my 88 days were coming to an end, I felt both happy and sad. Through the laughter and despite the tears I had the most amazing and challenging experience of my life to date.  

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Day 88 came by and I never thought I would have been sadder than I was happy to leave. With the new girls jealous of us leaving and the girls who had been there through it all with us sad to see us go it occurred to me: When you first start you cannot wait to leave and when it’s time to leave you wish you could stay. I have learned from this to make the most of every day and be grateful for the good and the bad, because they all get us to where we need to be. I have now finished my farming adventure and as sad as I was to leave Australia behind, I am now back to finish final year which I have no doubt will be just as challenging as my last adventure.  

For now I can happily say after 4 months, 14 weeks, 88 days, hundreds of mental breakdowns, thousands of fruits packed, and a million amazing memories that I am hanging up my farming shoes for the foreseeable future and the only apple I want to see anytime soon is one dipped in chocolate! Can we make orange vests a thing in University to motivate me to start my dissertation?? 

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