Alexander Pope quipped, ‘to err is human’. This is true—but getting more specific it seems ‘to procrastinate is human.’
Perhaps you are procrastination pro. Perhaps you may still be something of a novice. No matter the level, students on campuses and in online colleges will eventually fall prey to procrastination’s grimy grip. Whether it’s spring fever, March Madness or simply being spread too thin, things WILL and DO come up. And sadly, school work gets pushed aside. Until…
BOOM! Less than 24 hours before a major due date or exam. Oh man, actual work needs to happen.
After a short, intense full-out-freak-out, you begin crunching out pages, biting your nails on one hand while going over the rosary with the other…
But that’s not efficient use of your limited time. Your online degree awaits—but not before you prove yourself. So here are a few strategies for helping you meet the deadline while also greeting the next day as a partially-functioning human being—if not yourself:
- Caffeine: Obvious. You are pushing your human capabilities and will need to call in the reinforcements. There are even options for those who eschew coffee—tea (black or green) provides both caffeine and antioxidants. If fizz and sugar is your thing, sodas like Surge or Mountain Dew can fuel the fire. For the health nut, Kombucha tea provides energy and vitality without the caffeine—and it’s naturally evanescent! Sa-weet!
- B-vitamins: Especially b-12, these babies really (and naturally) keep the energy UP! You can buy a b-vitamin complex (perhaps pop a few more than normal) or take b-12 capsules (either would be available at most drug stores, health food stores or apothecaries). You could also just down a Monster drink which, along with another powerful, natural stimulant ginseng, provides lots of vitamin B to keep your eyes open and in the game.
- Music: This can help or hinder. Personally, I lose myself in the music and within minutes am prancing about, wasting precious time before I realize I’ve just performed, solo, the entire first act of Wicked: the Musical. Others, though, find music invigorating; the rhythm helps them fall into a similar, productive patter. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- Book Stand: Don’t underestimate this folding piece of metal. Not only highly transportable, but for around 5 bucks, you can get your text properly and efficiently propped up to not only prevent neck strain but to also facilitate typing should you need to quote from it. It also makes studying in a variety of positions—say sprawled on your leopard carpet—more accessible. We do warn, however, against remaining too long in a vertical position: you may be apt to fall asleep.
- Move: Sleep, generally speaking, equals stillness. Remain still for too long, you fall asleep. So when you feel the lids a droopin’, get up and move! Do some down-dogs in the library, somersault on some carpeting, dance or just let out a really hearty scream. Not only are you releasing tension, you’re releasing endorphins and serotonin into your body which helps you crusade all night long onto victory.
- Sticky tabs: Not only do they look totally super sweet, they are also functional. Quickly locate quotes, diagrams to review, or hugely important terms in bold-face you may need to memorize. It’s milliseconds you’re saving, but by not having to search for the page you save something and get that much closer to being DONE.
- Shower: We are not talking a leisurely sauna session in which you jam through the best of Aretha Franklin. Leave that for the victory celebration. Keep the temperature hot to relax nerves and muscles or bitingly cold to jolt you up and back into focus. Enrolled in an online college, you may not have to physically go to class the next day, but rest assured, those around you (wherever you are the next morning) will much appreciate the effort. You’ll also feel good. And when you feel good, you work better. See how it all adds up?
- Single THEN double space: If you’re writing a paper, boost your mood and sense of productivity by starting your paper single-spaced. Once you’ve fluffed out somewhere around half of the length requirements (at least 2 pages), highlight the text, select double space and BAM! You are OH so much closer to meeting the length requirement. Finish up by telling them what you already told them, perhaps throw in any neglected essential facts…and get to bed.
- SLEEP: Seems counter intuitive to pulling an all-nighter, but let’s be real, you won’t ace the test or write the A paper if you’re a sleepless zombie expending all her energy on the act of staying awake. Try and give yourself at least a 2 hour break to rest your mind and body. You’ll actually test better—because if it isn’t in there by a certain point, 2 more hours of jamming it in, when you’re barely functioning, won’t force it there. Being quasi-clear minded and able to form coherent sentences, though, might help you stay afloat. You can also take a cat nap for an hour or two and wake up extra early to polish your paper or memorize those last few terms with a fresh mind.
Overall, use the all-nighter as a last resort. True, we sometimes work better under pressure, but often times we sell ourselves short (and stress out majorly in the process!). One thing’s for sure: as an e-learner you have more flexibility to tailor your schedule and due dates to suit the many things in your life—and still procrastinate accordingly.