No matter if it’s in history, math, or science, sometimes we all lack motivation to start our work. Lucky for you, whether you have a lab write-up or a government essay about the Second Amendment due in two weeks, from one master ‘craster to another, here are my top 10 tips and tricks for fighting procrastination.
- Break your assignment down into easy, manageable chunks.
Sometimes, an assignment can be overwhelmingly large. It helps to identify the steps necessary for completion, write them down, then start knocking them off your to-do list one by one. Let’s say, just as an example, that you have an essay titled “A Debate over the Right to Keep and Bear Arms” due in a few weeks you’re dreading starting. The first instruction says… (let me just check real quick)… “Write your name, date, and period at the top of the page.” Alright! That wasn’t too bad, was it? 15 minutes well spent. Time for a five-minute break to cook, eat, and clean up dinner, then you can move on to step two!
- Make sure to plan out what you’re going to write!
If you spend an extra five or ten minutes writing an outline, it’ll save you an hour of writer’s block in the future. Grab a pen and some paper and jot down your thesis, evidence, and analysis. Though you may think you can plan your whole essay in your head, you may forget intricacies like the name of the 2010 court case which incorporated the Second Amendment. To go above and beyond, try and note down some interesting sentence structures as well. No one wants your writing to be boring, so thinking of a few related rhetorical questions, hooks, or puns can be a great way to spruce up your writing. Honestly, outlining is half the work! That means if you need to get 10% of the work done each day to meet the deadline, you’ve done way more than enough work today. Good job, you!
- Research your topic thoroughly.
As a bit of an extension of that last one, if you find yourself unable to make a full outline, you need to research, research, research! Though teachers prefer you wouldn’t use it (so don’t tell them I’m saying this), I find that Wikipedia is a great place to fill the gaps in your essay. For instance, if you want to know more about McDonald v. City of Chicago, just click on some of the links, and you can find out about… the Privileges or Immunities Clause! Interesting. And what are the Slaughter-House Cases? Who is Stephen J. Field? What is reading law? Now that I’m here, I wonder what would happen if I clicked the “Random” button. A one-sentence article about a province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Huh. What else? Road signs in Laos. They’ve signed the Vienna Convention on Road Signs and Signals but haven’t ratified it? There’s so much to learn!
- If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask a friend.
So you couldn’t think of what to write and ended up spending three days staring at your computer, and maybe you told your parents that you’d already started so they would get off your case, and maybe now you can’t ask them for help because then they would know you lied to them. Just reach out to someone you know! They haven’t started yet either? Shoot. Anyways, how are they doing? You haven’t spoken to them in… five hours? Wow, it’s been forever. You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.
- Forgive yourself if you slip up.
Even if you have only eight days left for a project that should have taken fifteen, don’t panic—it’s going to be okay. You messed up and should have started weeks ago, and you know that. You might be mad at yourself, but staying mad is never productive, and only leads to more frustration and anger. Take the time to apologize and promise you’ll do better in the future. That helped, right? Calm yourself down with a little you time, like a quick break to watch TV or read a couple chapters of that book you never bothered to pick up.
- Stay well-fed and well-rested.
A rumbling tummy is never good for your brain. Make sure to get out of your chair, stretch, and take breaks to feed yourself, keeping yourself sated and prepared for another session of writing. Because you’re working so hard, you might need to eat a little more than usual. It’s not stress-eating or anything, you just skipped lunch today (not out of guilt; you just weren’t hungry).
Also, remember to get a good night’s rest! When you’re tired, you won’t be doing your best work, no matter how much you try. If it’s 10:00 p.m. right now, how much can you really get done before you fall asleep at your desk? Not much. On the other hand, if you go to sleep now, you won’t be tired in the morning. Tomorrow, you will get your work done. You still have four days left. It’ll all be okay tomorrow. You can start it then.
- Write an article for the M-A Chronicle about the best ways to stop procrastinating.
Above all, you just need to sit down and start writing. Go to your desk, prop up your laptop, put your phone away, put your hands on your keyboard, and just write. No need to think twice; if you’re not writing, you’ll never finish. Therefore, the best thing you can do is pull up a chair and open Google Docs. Just calm your mind, think of what you’re going to write, then start writing. It’s rather simple really, and you could get the whole thing done in an hour if you just started now. It’s not as hard as you think it is: just open your document, write the first sentence, then another, then another. You already made an outline for it, so it won’t be that bad. You already know what you’re going to write, so it will be easy to just type what you have already planned. You just have to start and keep going. Starting now will make it easier for you in the future. In all honesty, there’s no reason you haven’t started by now, but since you haven’t, you can prevent a worse amount of stress in the future by just putting your hands on the keyboard and pressing them in the right order. The more words you type now, the fewer you have to go. I even took my time to make a graph to show you this effect. It’s clear, you just need to start writing now and then you will be done sooner than if you start later. Put down your phone, there’s no need to scroll through short videos made by people you’ve never heard of! You can do it, just start now!
- Just sit down and start.
Remember, more than anything else, you just need to sit and start writing. Go to your table, open up your laptop, put your phone down, put your fingertips on the keys, and just write. No need to overthink; you’ll never finish if you don’t start. Thus, the best thing you can do is grab a chair and open up your browser. Calm yourself, consider what you’re going to write, then start writing. It’s quite simple really, and you can get the whole thing done in an hour if you start immediately. It’s not as bad as you think it is: just open up your document, write the first word, then another, then another. You already wrote an outline for it back in Tip #9, so it won’t be as bad as it would be otherwise. You know what you want to write, so it will be easy to just write what you planned out already. You simply have to begin and continue. If you begin now, it will be easier for you in the future. Truthfully, there’s no reason you haven’t already begun, but because you haven’t, you can prevent being more stressed later by just placing your hands on the keyboard and tapping them correctly. The more words you write now, the fewer you have to write later. You can see this effect demonstrated in the graph above. It’s obvious, you just need to start typing your paper now and then you will finish earlier. Put your phone away: there’s no need to watch hours of short videos made by people you don’t even know! You can do it, just begin!
- Don’t worry! Everyone else in your class is also going through this!
Your teacher isn’t going to be mad or disappointed if your work is a little rushed. Everyone else in your class does this too, waiting until the day before to start. Right? I mean, the last time you asked your friends, they said they had finished it last week. But it can’t be just you! You’re not uncommonly bad at this—at worst you’re only slightly behind! This is an issue everyone faces! Not just me! Don’t worry! Be calm! Breathe!
- Make sure to read the instructions carefully.
Make sure to check and recheck Canvas so you don’t end up missing any small details which could potentially lose you points! For instance, this essay has… a minimum word count of 2600 words, leaving… 2579 words to go. And I have until… Fun fun joy joy at 11:59 pm to do it. That means I have to start…
I hope these help! Bye!