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You vs. Procrastination and Anxiety

March 13, 2017 - Posted to College life You vs. Procrastination and Anxiety

There are some people who are actually unflappable. You may have met one or two of them – you know, those students who take on whatever assignments and crises come along and get through everything with their sanity intact. Then there’s you. You’re a bit dis-organized, you tend to procrastinate, and then things move into crisis mode – all-nighters to get papers finished or cram for exams; missing class because you pulled an all-nighter and fell asleep, etc.

Retrieved from: EveryDayHealth.com

Take heart. You are in the majority among college students. The problem is that with procrastination comes anxiety – they go hand in hand. And when anxiety hits, you will not do your best, for sure, and that paper or exam studying actually takes longer to finish.

Do Yourself a Favor

Some studies report as many as 60% of college students stress over their academics. And if their academic stress is compounded by other stressors (money, social life, working, etc.), the percentage goes up. Stress also increases procrastination, because it is hard to get started on something when the brain is focusing on the anxiety.

You are never going to eliminate all of your procrastination and the anxiety is causes, but here are a few things you can do to at least reduce it.

Try to Channel the Anxiety that Comes from Procrastination

OK. So, you have procrastinated, and now you are in crisis mode. Your brain is traveling faster than the speed of sound, with all sorts of thoughts about how this paper is never going to get written, about how stupid you have been to put this off, etc. Take a deep breath. Now, say to yourself, “What are the steps to getting this done?” Write them down. You have a visual to focus on now, and the pleasure of crossing off each of those steps as they are finished. What this does is get your mind calmed down, because it has a plan – those steps you just wrote down. You will find that it is much easier to attack the task now. It is the same thing with studying for that exam. Write down the big chunks of content you must study. Then go after them.

Get Rid of the Negative “Self-Talk”

Negative self-talk not only defeats you mentally, it makes you inert. You just can’t move on anything, because you are overwhelmed with thoughts of, “I will never get this done, so why even begin?” Instead, say to yourself, “There is enough time to get this done, if I focus and get to work. It won’t be fun, and it won’t be easy, but it can be done.” That kind of self-talk gets rid of the negativity and moves you forward.

Break a Big Task Down

This actually goes along with #1 on this list. Instead of thinking about the end product (that’s the assignment as it appears in your syllabus), think only about one step at a time. It really does work to do this. Thinking only about the end product just increases our anxiety.

Yes, that Scheduling

You’ve heard all of this before. Just for a minute, pretend you are back in high school, and your teacher has assigned a research paper. Here’s how it probably went. You had a timeline with deadlines – when you had to finish your research and turn in your notecards; when you had to have that outline finished; when you were expected to have that rough draft finished and then revised. Finally, there was the final due date for turning in your final piece. This all may have taken as long as a month.

Now, you are given the paper assignment at the beginning of the semester. You have 16-18 weeks to do it, and no one is going to remind you, to coddle you along. It’s all up to you. The topic may be more difficult and the research tougher, but you also have more time. You also may have several papers to do in that time.

Put a paper calendar on your wall. Plug in dates by which you will have each step completed. Don’t just put them in your phone. Put that calendar up on the wall so you have a visual, and it is staring you in the face. As timeline benchmarks approach, take the time to get them done. You will have the pleasure of taking a pen and marking them off – it’s a good feeling.

And if you miss a benchmark? Re-schedule it immediately.

There Really is Something Great about Getting Physical

When you know that you are going to settle in for a pretty solid period of work, or if you are in the middle of that solid period and you are getting negative, stop. Do something physical – your mom might be pretty proud if you cleaned your room up and then sent her a picture – just so she knows some of her training has rubbed off on you.

So, that’s five tips that should help. Are you going to get into another anxious situation because you have procrastinated? Of course. But if you can start turning these tips into habits, they will be far fewer in number – and that’s a good thing.

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