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Time Management vs. Efficient and Effective Work Ethic

Procrastination is not just a bad habit but also a magical state of being, says the philosopher as she should be editing her SIP.

Before you read on, please watch the following video: http://youtu.be/4lnr8THgL5k. (If you say procrastination in Spongebob’s voice, it really does become magical). Did you end up watching five other YouTube videos on baby pandas eating bamboo? Did you fall into the trap of watching Miley Cyrus twerk? Were you catching up on your Jenna Marbles? Yeah, me too.

The truth is that sometimes we get distracted from our work. That’s normal. But at some point, distraction becomes less of a “hey, hold on someone texted me,” and more of a “oh, so-and-so put up 300 pictures of their Halloween party on Facebook, let’s look at them all and then look at the rest of the 6,054 selfies that she’s taken”.

We’ve all been there. We just don’t want to do our work, whether difficult, time consuming, or boring. So we put off whatever it is that we have to do and opt to do something easier and more fun, but probably equally, if not more, time consuming. Then you realize that it’s midnight and your three-page paper that would have taken you an hour probably isn’t getting done tonight and the possibilities of it being completed by tomorrow morning before class are slim.

Time management is a valuable skill that few people master. What is even more valuable and subsequently more difficult to master is an efficient and effective work ethic. I do my fair share of procrastinating, but I also know that I am capable of writing a ten-page paper in about six hours or less, which includes the occasional tweet or Facebook binge. So here are a few tips from a senior who could earn a Ph.D. in productive procrastination:

1. Use calendars, to-do lists, and hour-by-hour schedules. If you take 20 minutes to put all your assignments into your Google calendar at the beginning of each quarter, you’ll always know when something is due and in the case that you inevitably lose your syllabus, you’ll still know what to do. These things hold you accountable and can be a good way to put the work you have to do into perspective and keep you on track.

2. Do the actual assignment. I know it can be hard for us masochistic, overachieving K kids to stick to page limits, but don’t make yourself suffer more than you have to. Professors give specifications for a reason. Being able to prove your point in 3-5 pages is a skill in itself and your professor doesn’t want to read 10 bad pages when he could have just read three semi-decent ones.

3. Productively procrastinate. Don’t wallow in self-pity because you have a lab report due tomorrow and you haven’t started it yet because you decided to peruse Buzzfeed all day. You could have been organizing your email inbox, exercising, reading the newspaper, doing a crossword, filling out a survey someone begged you to do, revising your resume, writing a blog post, outlining a paper, or making to-do lists. None of these things are a waste of time, in fact they help keep us sane, because they reinforce the idea of productivity: immediate satisfactory return on the time invested.

In any case, eventually you have to bite the bullet and do your work. Put down your phone, put in your ear-buds, and write your paper, so that you can devote more time to doing things you love and hanging out with friends, instead of melting your brain looking through a People Magazine’s Kim Kardashian worst-dressed photo gallery online.

Also, for your procrastination pleasure:  http://what-would-i-say.com.

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