For many students it can be difficult juggling a variety of different responsibilities they have at work, school, and at home. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day for us to dedicate time to ourselves after taking care of our responsibilities. The constant balancing act can leave us feeling overwhelmed and anxious about tomorrow. Through an extensive period of trial and error I’ve found what management techniques work for myself personally in keeping up with responsibilities and increasing my quality of life. Everyone is different so many of these tips may not fit with your personality or how you work, but I’m hopeful that you can walk away from this post with at least one new strategy to beat deadline anxiety and procrastination.
Have you ever procrastinated working on an assignment or completing a simple task only for your anxiety to kick into first gear as the deadline approaches? You manage to scrape together a presentable submission in less time than expected only to repeat the process when the next task is assigned. Well, I too used to be a serial procrastinator in the past. These are four strategies I used to help manage and successfully attain my goals:
Tip #1 – Write down every deadline
Over the last five years I’ve turned into a list person. No matter how extensive or small the responsibility handed to me is, I can guarantee you I have a list for it. Writing down all of your unfinished tasks can be helpful as to not forget deadlines, but organizing and prioritizing tasks based on due dates and complexity (time needed to finish the task) can greatly clear your schedule and improve your time management.
Tip #2 – Identify your personal distractions
Everyone is addicted to some form of distraction that keeps themselves from working on goals. Identifying that distraction is key to overcoming procrastination. For some people putting their phone in a separate room is how they increase their concentration. Some people are able to concentrate more efficiently on their work when they’re studying alone away from social distractions, while others need to work in a group study type of setting to keep themselves accountable for working. No matter the distraction, most everyone knows their procrastination vices. Forcibly removing these distractions when working can result in producing quality work in a short period of time.
Tip #3 – One thing at a time
We all have a million tasks and assignments we need to complete. While multitasking is a valuable skill to possess, when it comes to time management, it can be more of a hindrance than a helpful technique. After writing down and prioritizing my list of responsibilities, I tend to focus solely on the nearest deadline in order to quickly accomplish the goal. While you don’t have to complete the entire task in one sitting, it may be helpful to set multiple milestones within the allotted time in order to make clear and definitive progress in the task.
Tip #4 – Just Start.
This is the concept that helped me more than any other advice. After a grueling process of self-reflection, I realized that a large portion of my work and school related stress derived from starter’s anxiety. Once I began forcing myself to start working on the assignments, I was unsure of or worried about, I found that my anxiety towards the task vanished, and I was much more involved in how to properly complete the work that I started. This same concept is used by people trying to adapt a new healthy routine. Going to the gym is half of the battle, after entering the facilities and beginning any physical activity, peoples focus tends to shift towards properly performing the exercises. In this same vein starting an assignment, no matter how bad or uncertain you may be, will shift your focus from worrying about the deadline to concentrating on understanding and finishing the task.