We’ve all been there. Every single one of us. Don’t lie. Across all degrees in all universities, in all fields and colleges, there is one thing that unites the common student: our bittersweet love of procrastination.
It’s the cornerstone of the uni student stereotype – 10pm, leaning forward on the couch, leftover Thai on the table and Netflix on the TV, rushing an assignment to the very last minute of an 11.59 pm deadline. It’s almost a part of the student experience. However, just because we’ve all been there before doesn’t mean we need to continue to be. Here’s how to avoid leaving yourself in the last-minute lurch with your assignments.
As an international student pursuing a Bachelor of Design (Architecture) at the University of Newcastle, I once teetered on the precipice of procrastination peril. Faced with a taxing design project that demanded both creativity and rigorous research, I watched the calendar flip while immersing myself in design documentaries and exploring every café in Newcastle, leaving my project neglected.
The lesson I gleaned from that near-miss was clear: start early. This advice, seemingly basic, can revolutionise your approach to assignment management. In the initial weeks of the semester, free from the impending avalanche of deadlines, dive into your assignments. Craft a plan and disassemble complex tasks into digestible portions. While it’s implausible to complete all your assignments in the opening weeks, you can shield yourself from the chaotic frenzy of a last-minute scramble.
Set SMART Goals: SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In my quest to conquer procrastination as a design-minded international student at the University of Newcastle, I wielded this framework. Instead of the vague resolution to “manage time better,” I embraced precision: dedicating 4 hours, from 6pm to 10pm to coursework and design projects, meticulously tracking my progress in a daily journal. I committed to mastering this time wizardry within the semester’s first month. This goal became my blueprint for a balanced life – precise enough to keep me on course, quantifiable to substantiate progress, feasible within the realm of sanity, pertinent to my academic aspirations, and time-bound to ignite urgency. With my SMART goal, I navigated procrastination, excelled academically and even savoured coffee catch-ups with fellow students.
It also helps to utilise ‘The Two-Minute Rule’. It’s a tiny but potent habit. If a task can be conquered in two minutes or less, seize the moment and tackle it right away. This approach helped me nip procrastination in the bud by preventing the buildup of those pesky, seemingly inconsequential tasks that can snowball into major distractions during my assignment submissions. I can’t recommend using this rule enough!
Master the Art of Time Blocking. Allocate distinct time blocks to various activities – work, study, relaxation and exercise. By weaving this structure into your routine, you craft a well-organised day that guarantees ample attention to vital tasks. Time blocking transforms your day into a symphony of productivity, ensuring that no important tune is left unsung.
It is not just about organisation and time management though! In times of anxiety and high pressure remember to take care of yourself as well.
Rewarding yourself and setting up a reward system to motivate yourself is crucial. After completing a task or achieving a goal, treat yourself to something you enjoy, like a favourite snack or short break. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can help improve focus, reduce stress and increase self-awareness, making it easier to tackle tasks without procrastinating too.
If you find yourself falling behind on deadlines more often than you’d like, it may be time to seek help from the academic services and PASS sessions available at the University of Newcastle. Remember, these services are made available by the university for us students. Utilise them when you feel the need!
As university students, we all occasionally succumb to procrastination. It’s a fact of student life. However, with these strategies in mind, it doesn’t have to be the norm. Remember, the key is not just to meet deadlines but to make the most of your educational journey. So, isn’t there something you’re meant to be doing right now?