Friday, April 12, 2013

Small successes can be key to student productivity

Tips to fight procrastination bug as the year ends

By Brian Bruns, Columnist
   
We are past the halfway point in the 2013 spring semester, and I can feel my Senioritis flaring up. It’s that feeling where you’d rather take a nap instead of completing that 10-page paper that’s due in half an hour.
   
It’s when the importance of attending that 8 a.m. class becomes debatable or when you promise yourself that you’ll finish reading that chapter as soon as you’re done playing “League of Legends.”
   
I know this feeling, and it isn’t restricted to us seniors. Most Pacific Lutheran University students are busy people with responsibilities for school, work and sports. With full schedules and multiple deadlines, everyone is prone to a little slippage from time to time.
   
Make no mistake, what we’re really talking about here is procrastination. Late night reading and writing is one thing, but I even delayed ordering my cap and gown by a couple of days for no good reason.
   
When the procrastination bug hits, it can be a powerful drag on a student’s productivity. If left unchecked, procrastination can ruin a student’s semester and possibly their entire college career.
   
The good news is that the symptoms of procrastination are easy to spot, and I wrote this column to give students enough time to counteract their own outbreaks and finish the semester strong.
   
There are few proven treatments or cures for procrastination, but there are steps students can take that may help get them back on track. The first is recognizing if you have the affliction.
   
Anyone experiencing any of the following symptoms has likely contracted the procrastination bug at some point. Watching more hours of Netflix than sleep and study combined. Taking several days to respond to mundane email requests.
   
Feeling pleased with your progress on an assignment when all you did was read the instructions. Waiting until the night before an assignment is due to even read the instructions. Promised yourself you would get caught up during spring break and didn’t.
   
Once you have diagnosed yourself, there is only one other step. You must experience a small amount of success. This will be the hardest part of the process.
   
It requires the completion of one small task. Wash one bowl. Write one sentence. Edit one photo.
   
Accomplishing one of the smaller tasks on a to-do list may be just the kick-start a student needs to get going on larger assignments.
   
If students experience newfound motivation, then the good news is they are cured. Procrastination can always strike again, so be vigilant.
   
Anyone not experiencing the urge to get things done after completing the steps should repeat the process until symptoms of procrastination go away.
   
When we drop the ball on our responsibilities the most important thing is that we pick it back up again. Recognizing that you need to improve is a start, but you need to take steps in a positive direction to make any progress. Start small and hopefully that will trigger an avalanche of productivity.
   
There is still time to get up, dust off that backpack and make a difference in this semester’s grades. No matter how you started, all anyone will ever remember is how you finished.
   
Brian Bruns is a father, a husband and a U.S. Army veteran. Sarcasm, wit and a good cup of coffee are all keys to his success. He can usually be spotted Thursday night working for Mast TV’s News @Nine or Friday nights hosting Lutes, Listen Up! on LASR.