Print Edition: November 7, 2012
It’s that time of year when you consult the crunched syllabus in your trunk only to find you have a paper due in five hours. You have spent all semester finding new ways to not study and now, in the last four weeks of the semester, you really need to buckle down. There’s only one problem.
You may really enjoy researching gender norms in the 17th century, but when there is a paper to be written, cleaning the bathroom suddenly becomes the best chore ever. The truth is, we all do it. No matter the task at hand, something else is always more interesting and steals your focus.
So how do we overcome the procrastination beast?
In a wired world, we turn first to our technology to save us. A perusal of the Apple app store offers a myriad of task management programs but, how do you choose?
If your biggest issue is that you are easily distracted, something like YellingRobot or Focusbar might help. These apps are free and remind you to get back to work by either popping up when you change windows—like opening Facebook—or yelling at you every few minutes to get back on track. The downside to these apps, however, is that they are ignorable and limited; Focusbar disappears if you scroll over it and the robot ceases to work if you turn your volume off.
If you need to sort through a million things and remind yourself when to start working on them, then the top rated app iProcrastinate might be your answer. It allows a full calendar view of the tasks you need to complete, and in conjunction with iCloud it will allow you to set reminders. If you input all your assignments, it will let you know that you have “a few weeks” before something is due. This app allows for multiple tasks to be prioritized and won’t break the bank; only $0.99 for the mobile option and free on the desktop.
The Samsung app store turns out similar results for productivity apps. Among the top rated free apps are ToDo List Task Manager–Lite and Astrid Tasks & To-do List. These apps allow for tasks to be organized into to-do lists, prioritized and checked off.
Common among both providers is Wunderlist Task Manager which is among the top rated apps, free and supported across all the devices. It promises to make you better at doing the things you need to get done.
“Wunderlist . . . will boost your productivity. Organize your to-do lists on the go and synchronize them with your free Wunderlist account,” the app description on the Samsung app store boasts.
However, a common thread among the apps available is that they are only as good as the operator. The complex calendar task-based apps like Wunderlist and iProcrastinate require you to take the time to input your necessary tasks. The reminder apps like YellingRobot and Focusbar have the ability to be ignored and rendered ineffective.
Downloadable apps are only as good as the user; at the end of the day the only person that can beat procrastination is you. Escaping the internet for a second (because isn’t Facebook what got you into this mess in the first place?), there are a myriad of strategies any student can use without touching a phone or computer.
UFV Counselling Services offers workshops as part of their Study Smart program on both CEP and Abbotsford campuses. This year they offered tips on how to manage time and get to the end of a to-do list, and all of their tips and tricks are available in the counselling office.
For procrastination they offer four strategies:
1. Realistic goal-setting: don’t think you can churn out a 15-page research essay in three hours.
2. Plan to work, plan to play: this is where those calendars come in handy. If you carve out time in your week to have fun, and to be productive, the need to avoid your studies will be lessened.
3. The “making a molehill out of a mountain” method: break tasks down and work on them a little bit each day. Take breaks when studying and recognize small accomplishments.
4. Self discipline: no secret here; blaming procrastination on laziness may not be that simple. If something needs to get done, you are really the only person that can buckle down and do it.
Visit the campus counselling department—B214 in Abbotsford and A1314 in Chilliwack—for more helpful resources on surviving the end of term.
Whether you use technology to help you get through or simple tips and tricks, don’t forget that when you are chatting to a fellow student on Facebook, you are probably both avoiding what you are supposed to be doing. Help each other out and get back to work; there are only four weeks left in semester, so make them count.