Don’t worry, folks, I’m not trying to expedite the holidays or trying to get to the end of the year (honestly, though, I can’t wait for this semester to end!), but the time is approaching to make New Year’s resolutions. It’s not too early to begin thinking about them already. If you start now, you can have a plan of action you can implement that first snowy day of the year 2012 (and we all know it’s pronounced “twenty-twelve,” as someone corrected me the other day, right?).

Of course, there’s no law of nature that states one can implement beneficial change in one’s life only on this singular, celebrated day. Every minute, every hour can be a moment in which we decide to bring about positive change — quitting some habits, starting other ones. As a college student, and one who has suffered from this atrocious facet of human life, I thought it would be at least personally, if not mutually, beneficial to write a bit about procrastination.

One of the many armaments of a great college student is a task list, a list that has everything you need to do for the day, week, month and even year. I have to have a daily organizer for a successful day and for a successful year at school. Luckily, an iPhone app aids me in my high-achieving hopes. So, I proudly wave my iPhone above my head as a banner and as a symbol of efficacy. Will you join me? Will you join me in declaring war on procrastination?

The enemy:

For me, procrastination is really the No. 1 evil that keeps me from doing my best.  Think of the last time you procrastinated (really ANY time you procrastinated). More than likely, you can recall some wishy-washy excuses your brain fabricated for postponing the work, temporarily easing your stress. Probably something like “It’s getting late; I might as well not start now and can begin tomorrow morning when I’m all fresh and rested” or “I don’t have everything I need to begin the project; I might as well wait till I have everything ready.” Do these sound familiar?

Be honest with yourself:

If we are honest with ourselves, we should be saying “I am bored with this and I am lazy, so I’m not going to do it.” We procrastinate, but we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we do so. Our ego is truly a powerful force. We’d rather make up excuses and avoid the truth than face the cold facts of life.

Stick to a daily agenda:

To combat procrastination, there are many tools in the armory: a daily agenda (as aforementioned), a work progress journal, routines and the like. Spending a few minutes each night to plan out the following day in my agenda works best for me.  Some say that taking a few minutes of the morning to do so is best for them. In the morning, I feel a bit rushed, so try to take care of as many things possible the night previous. To stick to the plan, you have to refer to your agenda every hour. You can make sure you’re on task and adjust plans if necessary.

Keep a work progress journal:

A work progress journal is a great weapon among your anti-procrastination repertoire.  A work progress journal helps you face the truth. After having planned your day, write down all of the tasks associated with the day in a spiral notebook or other journal. Label the list with the date and make note of the most important and time-requiring tasks. At the end of the day, if you have completed all of the tasks, happily write “all completed.” If you fail to complete a task(s), write an explanation beside the task(s). It is easy to tell yourself nonsensical excuses, but having to write them down in ink on paper will you help you discover their foolishness. After seeing so many lame excuses, there will be no escape from this reality: You are being lazy! Quite a blow to the good old ego, wouldn’t you say? Results: Motivation up, procrastination down.

Declaring war on procrastination is not a quick and easy thing to do. It will require time and dedication. So, whatever the task is (anything from filling out a FAFSA to make sure you receive financial aid to typing up a 25-page report for one of your classes), arm yourself with the appropriate weaponry: Schedule the appropriate amount of time, get rid of distractions (i.e., turn off your cell phone), stick to these guidelines, and CHARGE!  Defeat the pernicious procrastination!

Continue the war on procrastination next week with a follow-up column, including more helpful ideas to combat procrastination.

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