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Procrastination: The Bane of Online Learning and What to Do About it

Procrastination: The Bane of Online Learning and What to Do About it

By: Maya Roytman

The semester started off as well as it could have, given the circumstances of all my classes being moved online. It’s interesting how each professor does e-learning differently: some synchronous, some asynchronous, some give less work, and some give so much work the course should be considered two courses. I learned the hard way that with online learning, perhaps even more so than with in-person lectures, it is crucial to not only manage time, but to work efficiently within a given time frame to complete all tasks. 

After more than a month of taking classes virtually, already in the midst of midterm season and with deadlines of projects and essays coming up fast, there are some key practices that I think all students can implement into balancing their lives and freeing up more time to do what they are passionate about!

  • Have an online calendar system.
      1. My Google calendar is one of the tabs that’s always open on my laptop. I love handwriting my to-dos as much as the next person; however, when it comes to appointments and assignments that must get done, calendar blocking is my best friend to remind me of the countless Zoom meetings and classes I need to attend!
  • Always give yourself more time.
      1. This semester it became very obvious that I couldn’t rely purely on my self-will to make up for my procrastination, and now I know that I need to give myself at least an extra 1-1.5 hours more to complete assignments or projects than I originally planned for. 
  • Set earlier deadlines.
      1. Have an essay due Friday at 11:59 PM? Write in your schedule that it’s due Wednesday. Why? Changing my mindset to thinking things are due earlier has really helped with my tendency to procrastinate and also allows for cushion time to edit and ask any questions I may have for friends or professors. This is a skill that I am still working on, but one that I highly recommend to everyone!
  • Try not to overcommit.
      1. With everything being moved online and nonexistent commute times, it’s easier now more than ever to overbook yourself and spread yourself thin with many virtual volunteering opportunities or planning for clubs. Write down a list of everything you are involved in and, similar to Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method, ask yourself: does this spark joy in me? Do I enjoy doing this activity, or is it something I think I should do for an application, resume, etc.? This virtual time allows us to reflect on how we are living our lives and gives us time to re-evaluate what we find meaningful. It’s okay to say no or to ask for extensions – your mental wellbeing is much more important, and I guarantee that peers and professors will understand. Spend time doing the several activities that really make you happy and that don’t feel like work – this will make it much easier to avoid burnout!
  • Make time for leisure in your schedule.
    1. In my Google calendar, I have an entire calendar completely dedicated to leisure; nothing school-, work-, or extracurricular-related. This is me time: watching movies, playing tennis, doing Yoga with Adrienne, or just chilling with a book that I’m reading for pleasure (not school). It is really important to practice self-care, get enough sleep, and make sure that you can do things to take your mind off anything that is a potential stressor in your life. Even video-chatting with family and friends instantly puts me in a better mood, and I definitely make time to do that since it gives me the energy I need to do any school- or work-related tasks. There is a quote that I love from the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu that says, “time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying ‘I don’t want to.’” You do have time to set aside for yourself, and it’s important to make time just for you to recuperate and re-energize.

I don’t think anyone has ever perfected the art of time management, but as a premed, this is the perfect stage in life to experiment what works specifically for you when it comes to planning and avoiding procrastination. It’s a dynamic process, so don’t be afraid to try something new when it comes to time management! 

What are some ways you avoid procrastination and manage your time?

Maya Roytman – Neuroscience & Public Health, Premed Student at Loyola University Chicago

Anna Vardapetyan

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