Propel Yourself Out of Procrastination (And Into Relaxation)

College is an inherently busy time in a young person’s life. Somehow, students cobble together a life of working hard and playing hard. They are involved and invested not only in the classroom, but on the field, on the stage, at their jobs and in their clubs, all while trying to fit in a social life and some sleep to boot. Despite this melange of activities, the all too familiar parasite known as procrastination always finds a way to seep into the cracks of even the busiest and most disciplined students’ schedules.

As busy as we are as Boston College students, procrastination is intrinsic to our culture here on campus. Young people love putting off work until the last minute; we prioritize watching Netflix, going out to eat or hanging out with friends, rather than trying to adhere to a normal sleep schedule and doing assignments without enormous stress and pressure.

I know I can relate to this issue firsthand. Senior year of high school, finding the motivation to do things other than binge watch Netflix, eat a pint of Half Baked or Facebook stalk someone from 2009 was challenging. I was complacent with my school work as most lazy seniors are. However, college is a totally different ball game, and I knew that going into BC I would have to abandon those guilty pleasures and buckle down to do some serious work.

Despite my wishful thinking, old habits die hard, and I sometimes find myself indulging in social media (or mozzarella sticks) when I have a paper or problem set due the next day. Since I have been here at BC, I have been making a conscious effort to try and minimize the late nights I have, or the panicked hour in between classes doing a problem set.

By chatting with different people on campus, it becomes clear that everyone has their own methods of staying on track and battling the dreaded procrastination bug. Freshman Carol Porges, MCAS ’19, admittedly is, “a horrible procrastinator,” and she finds every reason possible to not do homework. Porges usually leaves all of her work until the nighttime, because during the day, she prioritizes napping, working out and having lunch with friends. This works for Porges because she “is always able to produce work under the gun, when it’s pressure out of necessity.”

Whenever there is an impending deadline for a term paper or a final exam, Porges uses the computer program SelfControl to block any potentially distracting sites and puts the phone away, no question about it; she just does it. Working in small groups with other motivated people keeps her on track, and setting time limits on each assignment is also helpful. She likes to split up her assignments into manageable chunks rather than looking it as a six hour ordeal, and if Porges completes the chunks of work in a timely manner, she will reward herself with a snack or a phone break.

Conversely, Resident Assistant Mike Paiva, CSOM ’17, “wouldn’t consider himself to be a major procrastinator, for it’s just a matter of eliminating potential distractions.” Paiva is a busy guy here on campus, as a double major in CSOM, member of the club golf team and an RA in freshman housing, so he really can’t afford to get off track. Paiva got involved early here on campus because he observed that his friends who were the most miserable and stressed out with school were the friends who just sat around playing Xbox, putting work off until the last possible minute.

Paiva thinks that the biggest way to avoid getting off track is to stay busy, because you have higher pressure on you to get things done in a timely manner so you can fulfill your commitments outside the classroom. As someone who doesn’t even have a Facebook, Paiva really stresses keeping social media distractions to a minimum, for they are only detrimental to your progress on the work you have. If Paiva feels his mind wandering, he will put on some soft music in the background to regain focus and cancel out potential distractions.

His parting advice: “No one likes doing work, so why prolong doing it? Be as efficient as possible, in order to maximize free time. Enjoy it!”

Everyone deals with the temptation to get off track. Some deal with it better than others, but ultimately, any student can empathize with the desire to let your mind wander. Keeping tabs on your technology use and getting involved in clubs can really make a big difference between feeling in control of your work and feeling stressed beyond belief.

Take risks and try out new methods, such as putting the phone away, breaking up the work into chunks, joining a club or rewarding yourself whenever you complete a portion; surprise yourself and see if you can find some new ways to take down the beast plaguing all college students: procrastination.