Procrastination and Lack of Motivation: Killers of Students
I have a lot of work to do. I have three assessments due in the coming days and I am nowhere near done.
Nevertheless, in my stress I decided that this is such a #UniMoment and what better way to document it for everyone to learn from than writing a blog post. But also I’m procrastinating and am pretending to be productive.
Procrastination and the lack of motivation are killers of students. I’m sitting at my dining table with my notes sprawled around me, staring at my computer screen hoping that my assessment for my law subject will do itself. Finally I let out a cry of frustration, complaining about why the law has to be so frustrating. ‘It’s obvious that there’s a publication because it’s been PUBLISHED! WHO NEEDS SOME THEORY/RULE TO BACK IT UP?’ That was me, on the verge of thinking whether law is something that will treat me right (it probably won’t).
My brother, who is very young and very nice, heard me yell and said, ‘don’t worry you will be a good lawyer one day!’ Which, you know, is nice. He kept talking though, deciding to list all the careers I had considered before, prompting me to groan back, “I just want to be employed!” (Someone seriously hire me though, at least to prove to the government that Arts degrees are ‘job-relevant’)
That anxiety was probably heightened by the current soaring unemployment rates due to the pandemic. But I think all uni students have a time where they wonder, ‘is this really worth it?’ My degree seems to be doubling in cost and I’m being told it isn’t ‘job relevant’ – hilariously, by the same people who got to where they were because of humanities and law degrees but I’ll save that rant for another time.
I was hoping to give some tips and tricks for managing your workload because I used to be such a great student. But now I have three assessments that are still incomplete. I’m going to blame my procrastination and lack of motivation on the pandemic though.
How to manage your workload:
1. Invest in a weekly planner AND a monthly/ semester calendar
The key to managing your workload is meticulous planning. At the start of the year, I took a semester planner from Academic Skills and it has been a godsend in tracking my assessments. By having the entire semester laid out in front of me, it is easy to decide how much time to allocate on one assessment.
The weekly planner is to help me break smaller tasks down, particularly when my classes are. Instead of buying a leather planner like I do every year (the exact same design lol), this year I opted for a digital option like below. The example looks like I’ve been productive, but really I spent too much time searching for new books to read.
2. Discipline and leniency
Last year as a Year 12, I had too much discipline and did not give myself enough leniency. As a result I looked like a mess – to the point that when my principal saw me leaving the school at 5.30pm, he asked me, “Are you okay? Is everything alright? Have some rest.” Mortifying. Reflecting back, I realise it was because my hair was all dishevelled, I was hunched over because of my heavy bag and was carrying around two more textbooks with a look of misery.
But this year I’ve been the exact opposite – I’ve been so lenient that I don’t really stick to that colour-coordinated planner. I mean I’ve gotten all previous work done but I’m still in a position where MY ASSESSMENTS ARE NOT DONE.
The main lesson here is to have a balance. Have breaks, go for a walk, do a rigorous exercise, read a book, paint a picture. But when it’s time to work, sit down and do it. A past teacher told me to use the Pomodoro technique where you study for 45 minutes and take a 15 minute break, but each hour/ session must be a new activity.
This needs its own category. Apart from the whole 15 minute breaks and take a walk thing, I usually keep Friday afternoons and the whole weekend free of work so that I may refresh myself for the coming week. I didn’t realise how much I needed this especially during the pandemic. When all you do is stay at home and study, you quickly burn out and feel hopeless, like you’re wasting your life away. Those two days and a half give you the chance to spend time with your family (if possible), do your hobby, or just rejuvenate. Obviously my planner above shows I have work to do but that’s because MY ASSESSMENTS ARE STILL NOT DONE. However, usually I’m very strict about those breaks.
4. Break your tasks down into smaller tasks
Again, this is not reflected in my planner above but when planning your workload, you should be very specific with the task. For example, in doing my essay I would break it into different parts and assign them for different days (usually) – breaking apart the prompt and looking through my notes for the relevant concepts; planning my response; research, finding sources and case studies; writing my draft; and editing.
Those tips work for me when I actually follow them and led to a pretty decent first semester. Hope it helps.
Now I will actually do my assessment.
Note: I wrote this last night at like 10pm, if that helps you understand my stress