There are times when bestselling author and organizing consultant Marie Kondo would approvingly nod if she would enter my room. Everything is in the right place, my sheets smell of lavender, I decluttered my wardrobe and reward my efforts with a healthy dinner. I deserve it after all. If there wasn’t that huge pile of notes hidden out of sight under my desk… What happened?
We all have been there, instead of putting effort into the task that requires our full attention, for example studying for the upcoming exams, we shifted all our resources towards the more bearable projects of our lives. Trying out this new recipe, rearranging the furniture, reading this book that a friend recommended… The list goes on and on.
While I decide which spice to add to the slow cooking stew, I reminisce about a saying my grandmother would torment me with as a child: “A stitch in time saves nine”. The essence of this figure of speech can be condensed to the word “Procrastination”. Something almost every student has experienced. The vicious thing about procrastination is the impression to have spent a day productively even though most of our actions were unrelated or partially related to our prioritized task.
The stew definitely could use some Chilli flakes. I give it another taste and feel satisfied. Yet there it is: “A stitch in time saves nine”, my grandmother’s voice keeps on repeating itself like a broken record inside of my head.
The stages of procrastination include security to have enough time on your hand, postponing the task and the final realization that a deadline approached way too fast. After all- “Carpe Diem”, right? Even though “Carpe Diem” might be considered a fashionable design for a postcard or (worse) a wall tattoo it misses the most fundamental part of its original version. “Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero”. The translation of this “Seize the day, do not trust the next one”. Strangely Horace’s implication is used as opposed to its intention.
According to John Perry’s book “The Art of Procrastination: A Guide to Effective Dawdling, Lollygagging and Postponing” the Master procrastinators among us have a vivid imagination about the perfect outcome of their projects. This leads to the creation of “microtasks” related to the project. For example, in order to submit the ideal paper, you might read additional materials, create a detailed list with your sources, watch a documentary about the topic or read a book related to the subject. In the end, you are left with lots of by-products and too little time to finish the final project adequately. As a helpful way to manage the variety of different assignments, a Task Triage might be helpful. A Task Triage divides your duties into four categories: important and urgent tasks, important tasks, urgent tasks, and neither important nor urgent tasks. An approaching deadline would fall into the category urgent and important task, whereas outstanding feedback for a peer can be considered an important task. Another practical tool for dealing with procrastination is a cost and benefit analysis of how important a “perfect” result truly is reflected in reality. A question that might be helpful for this evaluation: “Am I expecting too much from myself?”
Finally, I am eating my dinner at my desk. My foot streaks the paper-tower underneath it so that it collapses. I pick up the first page, sight and mumble to myself “Okay grandma, I will do the first stitch today”.
If you are all too familiar with my predicament, no worries you are not alone. We all have been there. You can find various strategies on how to handle the very common student illness of “Postponeritis”. No matter which strategy you think is the most suitable for you; Pomodoro Method, joining a study group or creating a study plan, they all have one goal in common. To start doing the thing you intended to work on. A friend of mine used to watch the youtube channel “TheStrive studies” in order to get herself in the right mindset for studying. If you tried various approaches and have not found the right one yet your study advisor can help you. A lot of the faculties offer workshops to find solutions for efficient studying or how to handle a learning disability. If you are experiencing an increasing impact on your life due to learning difficulties or procrastination you are welcome to schedule an appointment with your study advisor and inquire about those programs. There lies a glimpse of truth in every figure of speech, including “A sorrow shared, is a sorrow halved.”
Written by Lena – PR&Graphics committee