Tips for first time college students

Megan Halicek is a graduate of the College of Arts & Sciences at Drexel University, and is currently based in the Midwest. She is a positive, enthusiastic former gymnast & diver who enjoys writing, volunteering, traveling, and her current social business consulting position.

The term “procrastination”, especially throughout your college years, becomes a fickle, anxiety-infusing, massively overused noun. You hear, see, and say it wherever you go. As you sit in the library, you overhear distant chatter of upcoming parties, rave reviews of the new pizza place across the street, and ecstatic exclamations like, “OMG did you see what John posted on Instagram!?” After 15 minutes of jolly dilly-dallying, it hits them. “We need to stop procrastinating!” they exclaim with passion. They guiltily rush back to the task at hand, until the next opportunity for babble or Facebook stalking rears its head.

Webster’s Dictionary defines procrastination as “The act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off to a future time; delay; the thief of time.” While I don’t disagree, I think we, as students and young professionals need to attack this from another angle. Whether intentional or unintentional, if you manage procrastination with prowess, you will not only lessen the remorse it causes, but embrace the act altogether.

The main issue with procrastination being a dirty word is simply misguided perception. We have been socialized to understand procrastination exactly in compliance to the cut and dry dictionary description. Yet, we regularly hear of scientific studies that confirm regular breaks in our workflows are ideal to productivity and quality of work. So what’s up with that? Sure, procrastination in excess is bad, but so are these extensively verified scientific ‘breaks’. One might argue that a break morphs into procrastination when you’ve reached the dismal point of no return (in other words, returning to your work becomes progressively lesser and lesser of a possibility).

I’d like to surface the fairly new convention of working smart, not hard. Working hard, racing around the clock, and exhausting yourself physically and psychologically are not conducive to your best work or procrastination-management. It may even lead to procrastination abuse – your mind is telling you to slow down but you are not letting it, so it rebels with a 4-hour Netflix binge. Alternately, working smart focuses on maintaining a refreshed, strategic approach to your tasks. This includes welcoming procrastination and downtime whenever your mind demands it.

At the beginning of my journey to work smart, I found my most productive hours were (quite unfortunately) between the hours of 3-5am. Now let’s be clear, I am the polar opposite of a morning person. I’m not even a late night person. But, when on a tight deadline, I force myself out of bed before the sun rises. After a few begrudged yet determined yawns, I whip out my computer, and the urgency to complete my task ignites. My exhaustion lingers, but I am in no way tempted, even once, to stray from my task. Because, why would I scroll through Twitter at such a preposterous time!? I could be sleeping! Procrastination, while available to me, is something I assure myself I can indulge in later on when my brain requests it.

So I challenge you to welcome, not shun, procrastination. It is your mind’s indicator for demanding a break, or perhaps a new process for doing your work altogether. It is essential to work smart and learn your prime methods of effectiveness in order to lovingly embrace the “P” word.

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