How To Overcome Procrastination at University

Published by alvinauh on

It has been three long months since I have last posted. I would like to think that the reason is the constant battle that I face in my postgraduate studies. However, over time, I have come to realize that it is my procrastination that has led me to stop doing, well, everything. It wasn’t long before I notice that a lot of things in my life have been put on hold. I found myself having to catch up with all the things that I have ignored for quite a while. It wasn’t long before I have found myself in a cycle of procrastination.


My Definition of Procrastination

So let me first define what procrastination in my case really is. I know some people just ignore their work until the very last minute because of the misguided perception that time is on their side. They are those who procrastinate because they are occupied with other things that demand their attention. This can include family or other demands placed on them. However, I started procrastinating after being overwhelmed.

At some point in my study, I started losing a lot of support from some who were assigned to guide me. On top of that, the constant failures did not help as well. I know that it was all part of my journey of learning. But, I was required to finish my studies at a predetermined time as I was on scholarship. Thus, without the necessary support and time constraints placed on me, I started procrastinating.

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What are the Signs?

The signs were subtle at first. There was the occasional voice in my head demanding that I start watching the latest anime or start cleaning my entire house. These were manageable initially, but as the failures pile up, so did the time I procrastinate. If this sounds familiar to you, I think constant failures lead to a sense of fear. This fear eventually hinders one from pursuing their goals or attending to their responsibilities.

It was this fear that made me feel a sense of dread when I look through my work. It was this fear that made doing anything else preferable as long as it was not my work. Heck, I even learned how to bake. Doing that just seem more fulfilling despite my work being more important.

Fight the Small Battles

I was stuck in this cycle of procrastination that bordered on depression. I was displaying similar signs of depression that some friends of mine used to display. So how did I got out of it?

I started doing just small portions of my work. I understood that if I completed small portions of my work slowly, eventually, I could start tackling the larger tasks. As time went by, something happened in how I saw my situation. I started being more willing to complete my work instead of procrastinating.

I suppose with enough small wins, I started feeling less defeated and got my fire back. If this resonates with you, I think that we should consider that when we procrastinate, it could be that it is our self-esteem that has taken a hit. To address that, perhaps you just need the occasional small win to give you that boost to tackle the larger tasks.

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Take the leap With the Bigger Battles

As you address the small battles, there will come a time when you have to address the bigger battles. This could be a chapter in that book that you are dreading to finish, or in my case, the completion of my entire thesis. For me, there is always going to be that large final battle, that final boss that you have to address eventually. The question is, on what terms are you going to face those large battles?

I would argue that you would be more prepared to take on the larger battles or challenges once you are more confident. Such confidence can be like the fuel that you need to push you forward to completing your tasks. If the victories from those small battles do not appeal to you, perhaps consider this, you have no control over the bigger battles that you face. So perhaps you should just take the leap, or as my coach used to say, “embrace the suck”.

Embracing the suck can be unpleasant but it is through taking that first step that you start to realize that perhaps your challenge is not as difficult as you think. Sometimes, the fear of failing diminishes gradually once you start taking that leap. I remember bungee jumping off the Auckland Harbour bridge. The funny thing about that experience was that bungee jumping off the bridge was fun and exciting, but the journey towards the place where I jump off was much scarier. The point is, the journey leading up to a battle can be much scarier than actually participating in the battle itself.

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I hope that you have gotten something from my experience with procrastination. I think there are many articles out there that speak about hacks or methods that can help you be more productive. However, I think that at times, there is that slight possibility that it is not what you use to tackle procrastination, but why you are procrastinating.

Once you have a better view of why you are procrastinating, be it an emotional, physical or some other need, you would be better equipped to tackle your little problem with procrastination.