How does someone go from being a serial procrastinator to one who gets things done well before a deadline? That's a great question, and to answer it, I'm gonna have to take you way back to when I was in university in my first semester of bachelor's in Iran. I almost always waited until the very last minute to work on papers and studying for finals and plan for my classes. I was busy doing other things. At the end of my first semester, I failed 2 subjects (physics and mathematics) and the grades of others were not good at all. I can spend a whole lot of time complaining and moaning about how the system is unfair and how a computer student has to know all these unnecessary subjects but the truth is if I've just been a little bit proactive, if I was able to overcome this chronic procrastination I would have avoided all of these problems. I’ve come a long way from those early days and it wasn't a straight line to figure out how to improve my study habits but I want to share some of the things that I’ve learned.
The most frequent technique that I heard from so many hardworking students and I read it in a few articles called: the ”Pomodoro Technique”. It is very simple. Essentially you set a timer and you work for 25 minutes and then you take a five-minute break and you repeat that over and over again. It can be an effective way to reduce procrastination and increase productivity because it creates a sense of urgency. Instead of looking at your workweek and seeing just wide open blocks of time, you give yourself a time constraint to crank out as much as you possibly can. I did not set the timer for 25 minutes, but I did it for one hour and 10 minutes break and it increased my focus because I knew that it was just one hour and it would end soon so I tried my best to concentrate better. In my opinion, it depends on a person how much time is suitable for them and how much time they can focus on.
The second thing that I did is to create a productive daily routine that fits around my lifestyle so at the first semester of my bachelor degree period I never had a daily routine and I just kind of woke up half an hour before the class started and then rushed to the university to not be late, but for the next semester all changed! So when I finally created a routine for myself, it reduced the need to make decisions throughout the day and it enabled me to know exactly what tasks I needed to do for that day. For example, as soon I wake up, I go to the gym. I would train my body to know that that's just as I wake up, I would always go to the gym straight away. That’s what I do. That's just what my body has to do. I wake up and I go to the gym. It's a non-negotiable. No questions asked and I didn't have to contemplate or think too much about things. I just did it and after a few weeks, the habit of going to the gym in the morning became standardised and it became a lot easier as a result.
I think the tip that I want to mention now is the most effective one for me. I try to surround myself with people that I can look up to, people whose lifestyle I like and who are in the position that I want to be in the future. I believe in this quote “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with “, and I can't articulate how powerful and how life-changing this is when you start spending time with people that are where you want to be right now. So after graduating from my bachelor’s degree, I tried to make friends with people that wanted to continue their lives overseas or were already there and they helped me to achieve my goal which was applying for German universities and coming to Germany at that time.
I've also found it helpful to create rewards for myself .There are many days when I have the urge to watch movies instead of getting straight to study. Cutting movies out of my life isn’t the right solution for me personally because, well, I like to watch movies. I wouldn't be as happy if I never got to do it again. So instead, what I do is I take movies and I turn it into a reward for doing the thing that I don't want to do. I'll give myself a clear task like solving these 10 questions submitting them and then once I'm finished I'll allow myself to watch movies. Now, not only have I gotten some important work done but I can also enjoy this activity without stressing.
Those are the tips that I have experienced and my lifestyle quality now is much better than my early days of my bachelor’s. The good news is that the more you do them, the better you get at it and it is less likely for you to procrastinate. But be careful! Resistance is very sneaky and comes up with lots of creative ways to pull you away from the work that you find most important. I am sure you all have some other tips for yourselves to not waste your time. I would be really happy if you wish to share them with me when we see each other.
Mahsa Masoudizad is an Iranian Master's student of Applied computer sciences at Deggendorf Institute of Technology. She is passionate, sympathetic, and enjoys little things in life. She can describe every Taylor swift lyric like she was the co song-writer of her songs. she is interested in digital designing, listening to music, traveling, swimming, and playing the piano.