How to win at the procrastination game

Gillian LelchukCome with me, and you’ll be in a world of pure procrastination.”

Alright, so that’s not exactly what Willy Wonka said. But it might as well have been. He procrastinated for who knows how long before he finally started that golden ticket contest that led him to Charlie Bucket.

(Side note: why on earth did he think the best way to find an heir to the chocolate industry was through a completely random contest based on purchasing chocolate bars? Come on Roald Dahl, do more.)

Anyway, let’s get into this. Procrastination. We all know it. It sneaks up on us in the afternoon when we get out of class and think we’ll work on our homework right away. It pounces on us late at night when we take a break from an essay to open Facebook, and we read 18 different articles about Planned Parenthood or mozzarella sticks, depending on our interests.

And finally, it lets us go three hours before a paper is due or before we are set to sit for an exam.

Procrastination is my third biggest enemy right behind sexism and heteronormativity. It is the reason I don’t think I have any free time. I do have free time, but instead of using it all at once I use it in 15-minute increments to play stupid app games or take Buzzfeed quizzes (recommendations: TwoDots and “We Know Which Disney Character You Should Carve Into Your Pumpkin”).

So how are we to fight this big shadowy monster that feeds on our motivation? Beats me.

Wait, were you hoping for a step-by-step explanation of how to stop procrastinating? If you were, you definitely came to the wrong place, although I suppose the title is a bit misleading. I procrastinate on watching movies for class. Movies. Yeah, it’s that bad.

How, then, are you supposed to escape the clutches of procrastination? Well, like the classically trained investigative journalist that I’m not, I took to the Internet. Specifically, I took to the beautifully reliable wikiHow.com.

“How to Stop Procrastinating” teaches us, through 11 steps with illustrated pictures, how to beat the procrastination game.

At the time of publication, this article had 137 contributors and had last been updated on Sept. 30. In case you lack a concept of numbers and time, this is a lot of people and a very recent update. These factors contribute to what must be a Very Good List.

It includes advice such as making a to-do list and using a timer to have what it calls “a work frenzy.” The general theme of this wikiHow is that you should just buckle down and get sh*t done.

But we knew that already, didn’t we? We always manage to be most productive late at night when we’ve left ourselves absolutely no time to do anything. We study best on a time-crunch and under tremendous pressure. So wikiHow isn’t exactly contributing much to our eternal struggle.

So what next? Let’s check out some other sources.

CATHY STANLEY-ERICKSON/ CC BY-ND 2.0 Don’t let procrastination prevent you from being productive, or all the books and homework will pile up.

CATHY STANLEY-ERICKSON/ CC BY-ND 2.0
Don’t let procrastination prevent you from being productive, or all the books and homework will pile up.

“9 Tips to Stop Procrastinating” from Unstuck, an app to help you be more productive, gives better advice like bargaining with yourself. If you finish this problem set, you can watch another episode of Game of Thrones.

The list also recommends telling everyone you know that you’re going to finish this essay so that if you don’t, you’ll be really embarrassed. I don’t know if that’s exactly true. If you don’t finish your essay when you say you will, everyone you know will understand because they also didn’t finish their essays.

In all reality though, Unstuck looks like a really great website/app to help you accomplish more of what you want to. You should check it out.

But you can’t rely on a website or an app or a list to help you fight yourself. Yeah, I just went there. The real problem with procrastination isn’t that there are too many distractions — it’s that you are trying to avoid the activities you don’t want to do.

I know it isn’t exactly easy to perceive a chemistry lab report as “fun,” but maybe that’s what you need to do. I mean, you’re taking chem lab for a reason. Maybe it’s only because it’s a requirement for your major, but even then, you picked that major for a reason.

There’s got to be something in that class that you find interesting. Maybe the chemical reaction that week was really cool, or maybe you think balancing equations is fun, or maybe you just like playing with test tubes. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if this is an accurate depiction of what chem lab is like. I am a Writing Sems major.)

Okay, I think I’ve hit the moral of this article as well as I’m able to: Don’t procrastinate, kids.

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