Procrastination in the student nation

We are all too familiar with those distinctive noises that fill the library, from quiet mutterings, the rustling of crisp packets and the click click clicking of computer keyboards. For many of us students this dismal place becomes our temporary home. We spend each day and night sat in front of our glowing computer screens wishing for a time when we will be able to celebrate our freedom by dancing and drinking the night away.

When the first of the blue skies are stretching out over Britain, we all begin to feel a huge sense of excitement for the wild summer that is only weeks away. However, before we can begin enjoying the festivals, inter-railing and beer gardens we have to face one final and agonising academic push.

We know our deadlines can’t be escaped, but still we try everything to distract ourselves from all that we have to do. In the library, the majority seem to be acting very productively, but closer observation exposes a student nation of procrastination.

Some have a mobile phone in hand which they are using to organise a take-away and movie night, others are surprisingly luring at their laptop screens with a look of interest and excitement on their faces- surely this can’t be the result of essay writing- nope it’s a social networking site. In the library people can be seen chattering, eating, texting, observing and daydreaming, anything that has little to do with work. Procrastination is something that happens to us all and seemingly only when we are most under pressure.

On a small table, situated through a maze of paperbacks and journal articles sits Bethany, a third year who despite having 3 essays to complete for just this week is watching the world go by through the window whilst making her way through a pack of juicy red grapes. Clearly a serial procrastinator, she seemed a fitting person to ask about the subject. She says: “It’s annoying really, the one time I need to get something important done and I just CAN’T. I’ll do anything to put off my work, you wouldn’t believe how many times I scroll over the same Facebook statuses” placing a large grape in her mouth she then says, “and how much I eat!”

Her friend, who is sat opposite with energy drinks AND a coffee (like that will make her work) is clearly eager to join in the conversation and offer her opinions on the matter. She says: “Do you know what? I avoid my work so much that I even clean- and believe me I wouldn’t normally” she begins to smile “sometimes I’ll be looking at the computer screen and think oh! I forgot to do my washing up this morning; I should probably get that done! Or I’ll just decide that my room needs a hoover half way through a revision topic. It’s awful.”

Jon who is in his second year and caught bobbing his head to music and chatting to his friends about a night out on Facebook simply says: “Why work when you can play.”

As funny as it is to hear about people’s drastic procrastination habits, in reality it’s a rather serious issue. However, it’s one that there is a solution too. According to a study on procrastination, the best way to break this harmful cycle is to simply forgive yourself. Accept that it’s happened and that now is the chance to put it right and secure that grade you yearn for but don’t work for.

Most students will agree that the hardest part of an essay is willing yourself to sit in front of a laptop, open up a blank word document… and start. If forgiveness doesn’t work and you can’t break the unrelenting system then use it to your advantage. If you all set a target of time to work, not long, say 15 minutes – with something to look forward to at the end, then your on your way to starting what you’ve been putting off for no less than a few months. For example, do 15 minutes of work and then eat a few grapes. Or do half an hour and then check your Twitter.

By the time you sit down and realise that actually, it’s not that bad, you might not want your procrastination reward time after all. Instead, you could end up typing the night away and completing all that you’ve worked so hard to put off.

So, next time you walk into the student library take some treats but use them to spur you on, don’t hinder your progress. As you look around and see others procrastinating, think instead that every bar of chocolate and every phone in hand is someone’s reward and you too can have your prize- once you’ve started.

Photo Credit: JannekeH via Compfight cc

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Sian Crookell

I am a 21 year old student studying media and journalism at Nottingham Trent University and part time photographer at Manchester Sealife. I have a slight obsession with animals, the series 24 and milky cocktails.

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