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Why We Procrastinate and How We Can Increase Productivity

Why do we procrastinate all the time? Procrastination for most college students lies simply in putting off school work, or waiting until tomorrow to apply for that scholarship or internship. The easy answer for why we procrastinate is laziness, but in some cases the cause goes deeper. While we may have all kinds of excuses for not getting things done, the bottom line is that we fear change.

According to Forbes, fear is “that potent and instinctive emotion whose reason for being is to protect us from pain (including the emotional variety) and urge us away from anything it perceives might threaten our sense of self, injure our pride, or rattle our world.”

But college is a point where students have to make a lot of adjustments in their lives. You can expand on your potential and take advantage of your assets, or you can let your time pass and watch opportunities dwindle. College and the anticipation of life after college bring an enormous amount of dread and pressure. The best way to begin to manage your procrastination and fear is through the little things. It is imperative to develop tools and the desire to dispose of your procrastinating ways. The drive to eliminate our hesitation towards tasks, both personal and in school or the workplace, marks a crucial step in maturing.

Whether it be a term paper, a final exam, or merely a reading quiz on the first four chapters of a book that is yet to have a crease in the spine, college students put parties, sleep, and that next Netflix episode before school work. Some have mastered the art of procrastination, but for most people the solution is an all-nighter. Procrastinating isn’t always a bad thing. Small breaks are beneficial, and give the brain and body time to fuel up. The problem is, most people don’t take just an hour or two away from their desks, and that time is not usually spent rejuvenating the brain. Let’s admit it — we even procrastinate solving our procrastination problems!

Apparently, you are different though. You are taking the time to read this article because you are done taping your eyes back at 4 a.m. and anxiously tapping your foot to remedy your dread.

Here are five tips to iron out those procrastination tendencies and increase your productivity.

1. Give Yourself a Deadline

This self-made deadline should not mimic your professor’s official due date (See Study Tip #2). Acknowledging only the official deadline limits time for corrections and allows you to subconsciously push assignments off. If it is an important project, exam or paper, professors often let you know when it is due months in advance. If you put it off, you run the risk of having work piled on from other classes. That sounds like a recipe for dread. Remember back in high school when teachers made you turn in rough drafts and would set class time aside for peer editing? Those practices should transfer to college work. Make a list, on paper, of personal projected due dates. Ask your peers to check your work to eliminate the careless typos and redundant themes. Spacing assignments out over time lifts the stress-induced pressure off your chest and releases the compression on your brain.

2. Surround Yourself with Productive People

Those who you go to parties and socialize with are not the best people to work beside. This isn’t always the case, but primarily, social life and the workplace shouldn’t intertwine. This becomes more apparent as your professional career progresses. Peers and colleagues should remain as such. This way there is no social pressure to let someone slide behind on work, or brush it off if someone spends most of their time at the library or office on Social Media. We are all individuals with the goal of marketing and improving ourselves. Take it as a compliment when you’re pressured to stick to your work, for it’s only benefiting you.

3. Have an End Goal

While this tip can aid in immediate goals, such as receiving an A on a research paper, it also translates to defeating procrastination in the long run. Have an idea of where you aim to stand in the next five years and what kind of work you wish to be involved with. Ask yourself what it will take to get you there. Goals are set to be accomplished so long-term goals are important as a guide, but what is most essential is acknowledging and acting upon the steps to reach your goal.

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4. Be Brave but Pragmatic

Fear of the future can be dissolved through determination. There is no better time to take risks than in college. Your life isn’t set, and neither is your career path. Ask yourself what you are afraid of and confront those fears with solutions. The desire to surpass fear causes people to take risks, work hard, and take the necessary steps to achieve their goal.

5. Take Time Off

No, this does not make me a hypocrite. When you are procrastinating, you are aware of it. You can’t fully enjoy the activity you are prioritizing before your work because the overwhelming feeling of dread attached itself to the back of your head. Take time off when you feel you have deserved it. Go out at night with your friends, or just take the rest of the night to re-watch season four of The Office. Reward your hard work with leisure. This allows for increased productivity, and gives you the freedom to fully enjoy and feel deserving of your free time.

Take steps to confront procrastination every day. Make personal due dates for immediate assignments in college and career goals years away. Act upon steps to further yourself and take yourself seriously. Whether we wish to admit it or not, procrastination roots deeper than pure laziness. Facing your fears and doing away with procrastination is a sign of maturity, which will boost your productivity and the growth of your professional career.

More from this author:

Embrace your Senioritis: 4 Tips for Your Last Month of College

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Jackson Schroeder is a journalism major and political science minor working towards his Bachelor's degree at Ohio University. He is from Savannah Georgia. Jackson has covered a wide range of topics, including Sports, Culture, Travel, and Music. Jackson plays Bass and Guitar, and enjoys playing and listening to live music in his free time.