Saturday 12 May 2018

Living with Procrastination

Lucy shares her experience of procrastination at University and how to make the best of it so it doesn't hold you back.
- Lucy

As I sit up my kitchen side, staring at my laptop screen, while desperately trying to make a start on an assignment, I feel like now is the best time to write a post about procrastination.

Procrastination is something I am almost certain that everyone experiences at some point in their university lives (or life in general), and for some of us, it happens on the daily. This can cause a bit of a tricky situation, where that inability to force ourselves to do an assignment only ends up causing a huge amount of stress in the long run. At the time, it's so difficult to convince yourself that you'll be suffering much more from the decisions you are making now. Even if you're aware of that fact, for some reason, your brain just doesn't want to process it and take action. So instead, we continue to sit and stare at a blank word document and waste a whole day doing absolutely nothing, out of guilt for doing anything but that.

It doesn't really make sense when you think about it.

Fair enough, it's going to be one of those days where you just can't produce a single sentence without checking your phone or staring out of the window. However, why should that mean that we waste a whole day doing absolutely nothing because of it? I don't know about you, but when I find myself procrastinating, I'll find small and useless things to do while just sitting in front of that piece of work. For some reason, I feel guilty if I step away from my laptop screen and do something a little more productive, because then I'm no longer paying any attention to the assignment that should be in front of me. So as a result, I just end up wasting a whole day sat in front of my laptop screen, doing absolutely nothing, but still manage to feel a sense of achievement at the fact that I 'tried', when in actual fact, I just wasted a day.

That's where learning how to deal with procrastination can really come in handy. Having the ability to notice when you're procrastinating is the first step. But to then pull yourself away from the guilt you feel by not doing your work and to then distract your mind by doing something else instead, is the real game changer.

It's about learning to pull yourself away from that blank word document and teach your mind that it's okay to step away if you're incapable of being productive. It's okay to take a couple of hours off, or even a whole day, because as a result, you'll be allowing yourself to do something more enjoyable and also productive with that time. 
In addition, that time away may even provide you with a little motivation to sit down and get a few paragraphs written over a few days. Or it may even give you enough motivation to get the whole thing finished way before the deadline date, and escape all that last minute stress.

Procrastination can be incredibly difficult to live with because it consumes you with guilt, which leads to frustration, which ends up adding to the procrastination you are already experiencing.

Learning to accept you're having an off day is the key to overcoming it.

Learning to appreciate writing a few sentences as a success when you're really struggling, is the best way to remove the guilt and to keep on going.

Learning to allow yourself some time away from those deadlines to refresh your mind, can really help avoid those few days of stress as you reach a final deadline and still have a tonne of the assignment left to complete.

Procrastination can be difficult to live with, but it is possible to learn to live with it too. It's all about training your mind to remove the guilt you feel and instead, fill that time with something else productive that you're going to gain a little more enjoyment from, until you regain your motivation!

Hello! I'm Lucy, a Clinical Psychology Masters student at Anglia Ruskin University! Through studying Psychology and experiencing life as a student, I have become incredibly passionate about mental health and helping to make a positive change. I have been volunteering for Student Minds for the past 2 years as a Peer Support Facilitator at my university, and have been the Editor of the Student Minds blog since June 2017.

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