Early on in my high school career, I discovered that I was really good at finishing assignments last minute. Like, really good. And when I say last minute, I mean morning-of, or during lunch, or in the class period before it was due. It became a point of pride for me, so I kept doing it until about junior year when it came around and bit me in the butt.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually loved (and still love) school, but when it comes to homework I’m as stubborn as a stick in the mud. I could find just about anything that I’d rather do than homework, and I ended up leaving myself NO time to do anything but rush and be sloppy. Eventually I realized, hey, work gets a lot harder as you progress through high school. That’s when my grades started dropping. I started stressing out and dreading going to class because I was afraid there might have been an assignment I’d put off for so long I’d forgotten to do it at all. My grades made me feel bad about myself, and with low self-esteem came even less motivation to have anything to do with school work at all. When it came time to apply to colleges (which, of course, I put off until I just barely made the deadlines), I was having anxiety attacks every other week.
I graduated high school with a much lower GPA than I know I was capable of, and I had no one to blame for that but myself. Unfortunately it took me a couple of semesters in college to finally realize that I was selling myself short; just because I couldn’t do an assignment quickly and get an A on it anymore didn’t mean I wasn’t smart or talented. I still have to consciously work on my time management skills. It’s just not something that comes naturally to me. I use a planner and my cell phone reminders to keep track of what needs to get done when. Even when I start a project or assignment, I have rituals that help keep me on track so that I don’t wander off and lose focus.
Tricks to Help
If you’re like me and have a knack for finding absolutely anything more interesting than a project you need to get done… (I’ve actually started cleaning my room in the middle of a research paper because I was so un-motivated. I DUSTED MY FURNITURE.) feel free to try some of my tricks. Firstly, I need to be in complete silence: No TV, no music, minimal outside noise, and phone on silent. If you can turn your phone off, even better! There’s nothing more tempting than seeing, You now have full lives in Candy Crush!
Secondly, I break my work up into parts and work straight through until I finish each part. I don’t give myself time limits for each, I just work until it’s finished. I’ll give myself a bit of a break in between sections to grab something to eat or use the bathroom, but never longer than 15 minutes.
Lastly, I put off my procrastination. If I think of something that I would rather do at that moment (“A grilled cheese sandwich sounds really good right now,” or “I haven’t reorganized my closet in a while…”), I convince myself that getting up and doing that would be so much more work than just sitting and working. Then I use it as a reward for when I finish, and I end up having something to look forward to. It works!
When it comes to getting work done and meeting deadlines, don’t sell yourself short! Give yourself time, and you won’t be setting yourself up for disappointment. Let your work be a reflection of yourself, because your self is pretty amazing.
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