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How to deal with being overwhelmed and procrastination in University ?

Hi,
I'm a university student, currently taking foundation courses. All my coursework are assignments and essays based. I find that when I think of an assignment that I have to do, I think that the assignment is too difficult and that it will take hours for me to complete it. When I finally get the courage to sit down and do it (usually assisted with a friend or because the deadline is literally in an hour or in minutes), I realize it's not that bad, sometimes I even enjoy it. I just want to learn how to get over that hurdle of being overwhelmed and to cease the thoughts that make the coursework bigger than it actually is.

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Michel’s Answer

I think setting time lines for studying is extremely important whenever I ended up getting assignments in school I did my best to complete them as early as possible. This gave me a lot of time to wait and to change little bits that I wanted to change over time. Having a dedicated study area is also very important. It is easy to get distracted if we have a lot of things going on around us so making sure we have a spot that doesnt allow us to become distracted while we are trying to study can be very helpful. Working with friends on assignments and working together to see how we are doing on assignments can be helpful. Creating planners can be helpful when putting projects down. I think my last tip is rewarding ourselves for good work and doing things the right way. How about each time you complete an assignment a couple days early and don’t stress it at the last second you reward yourself with something that you enjoy. If you like going out to eat only let yourself do this if you complete your project on time without putting it off to the last minute. Creating habits can be hard but using rewards can make them a lot easier because your brain learns what is allowing itself to be rewarded.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for taking the time to help. Shamma
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Jamini’s Answer

Been there, done that! A practical way that I overcame that challenge was by breaking the task down into smaller sections. It can be quite overwhelming when faced with a large task to complete and I found it easier to break it down into achievable components. For example, block out some time to plan and research, on another day start writing the introduction, and then gradually form the body paragraphs one at a time. I often did this on a paper based planner and made it look pretty!

Jamini recommends the following next steps:

Invest in a weekly/daily planner
Grab some pretty pens and highlighters
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Shamma
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Amy’s Answer

Shamma,

Since it sounds like you realize that it isn't so bad once you read the assignment, I would suggest setting aside 10-15 minutes to just read the assignment and list the steps required to finish it and any resources you will need. This may help you to not feel so overwhelmed by the thought of having to sit down and tackle the entire thing. Do this for each assignment and then assign your self dedicated time to complete each. You can start with easy first, hard first or break it up. This gives you control over your time. Keep a calendar and set a meeting with yourself to complete each. I like FIFO - First in First out - but you need to factor in when it's due and how much time you believe it will take to complete (based on your initial read ). Treat your homework appointment time as you would for a Job, going to school is your job right now, so give it a high level of importance. The more you stick with your scheduled the easier it will become to develop a routine and good study habits.
Thank you comment icon Thank you for giving me advice. Shamma
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Deborah’s Answer

Hi Shamma, as a fellow New Yorker, I get it! First of all, being overwhelmed is NORMAL!

I too was a procrastenator in College, so I totally understand. I LOVE the idea of getting help from a friend! As others have said, I would start with just step one...usually that is just reading the assignment and take one baby step in the direction of completing it. Do not worry about the end result. FOCUS on just the first step ...I call it "doing the next right thing". The next "right thing" might be reading the assignment, it might be researching the subject, it might be reaching out to a friend for help, or discussing the assignment with your professor. The "next right thing" has helped me in many situations.. not just my school studies. I hope this helps you too!
Thank you comment icon I'm excited to put your great advice to good use! Shamma
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Sharon’s Answer

Get a good day planner and plan out your day in detail - breaking up all the time you need to study or do assignments by the hour so you know what you have to do and when to accomplish all that you have to do, between classes and the work.

Also, it is better to plan out to have it all done in advance so you have extra time to study over again so you are extra comfortable with the material!! Practice many times so you are set. Good Luck!
Thank you comment icon Thank you for taking the time to help. Shamma
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Isabel’s Answer

Hey Shamma,
I too used to be a procrastinator when I was in college, but it assignments or studying for exams. The one thing that I did to keep myself on track was to find a buddy who would keep me on track and to break the assignments/chapters down into small chunks. Doing it all in one go is always daunting but if you break it up and reward yourself for finishing a chunk, you're more likely to complete it! Also, never be afraid to ask for help if you do get stuck, you can always go to your Professor or TA for clarification as they can always point you in the right direction if you are confused about anything on an assignment. And then when you finish the assignment or studying, do something fun! It could be something simple as going out to eat with a friend or going to visit a place you wanted to go, but always reward yourself for the hard work you have accomplished!
Thank you comment icon That's another thing, asking for help. I really struggle reaching out for help as I feel disappointed that I couldn't do it myself. But I guess that's the purpose of professors, to guide you when you are confused or lost. I will try to reach out to my professors when I'm stuck. Thank you, this is really helpful. As for the buddy, I will try and do that with my friend as she is also focusing on her academic goals and influences me to strive the same. Thank you so much for this advice. Shamma
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Mercedes’s Answer

I feel your pain! To be honest, even as a professional, I sometimes still procrastinate! The reassuring point, is that you are not alone. Most individuals struggle with procrastination, so there is nothing wrong with you. A few methods that help me to avoid missing deadlines are: 1) Make a list of the projects/deliverables to be completed, identify at a high level the tasks to complete the deliverable. I find that breaking down the project into small "to-do's" helps me get started; 2) Take a long break or do a very fun activity prior to starting the project. I find doing something really fun is motivating and invigorating. I think how blessed I am and recognize that my job/work allows me to enjoy some of these benefits. and 3) finally, my favorite, is that I write my to-do's or projects on post-it notes, post it where I see it daily as a reminder, and the reward is taking down the post-it note when I can check the to-do project as DONE! Good luck and I promise working on your big projects will be less daunting as you practice your best method.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! Shamma
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david’s Answer

Hi, Shamma,
I feel your pain, as I find this a daily challenge that never truly ends. That is, it's not just university studies, it's life itself. The solution is to just start the work. By starting, your mind begins or organize the elements needed for the assignment and the research to do. Making a short list of specific items can also help, because that lets you pick up the assignment more quickly if you need to lay it aside at any time. What is hurting you is procrastinating, which can let you avoid the stress now, but it's much stronger later. A trick that I use for myself is to set a specific time for assignments and when that time comes, drop everything else and do the assignments. The more you do this, Shamma, the easier it gets, but this is a practice of retraining your mind and takes time to become normal. True, my answer seems too simple, but that's what it is. Also, when there are multiple assignments at once, start the hardest first. Doing the little ones can give the sense of accomplishment, but getting the hardest done first will energize you more than you might imagine. All the best to you.
Thank you comment icon I appreciate your support, david Shamma
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Pam’s Answer

I always find that tackling the hardest assignment I have on my plate first is the best way to go. Saving the hardest for last keeps that stress and pressure on you for longer than it needs to be. Just find some quiet time and start slowly. Remind yourself that it's never as bad as you've envisioned it being and face it head on. Once you get the hardest assignment behind you, it will give you even more confidence to knock out the rest of them.
Thank you comment icon I appreciate your support, Pam Shamma
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Chirayu’s Answer

It's common to feel overwhelmed when faced with an assignment, especially if it's a new or challenging topic. Here are some tips to help you overcome this hurdle - Instead of looking at the assignment as a whole, break it down into smaller tasks. This will make it easier to manage and less overwhelming. Create a checklist or to-do list and focus on completing one task at a time. Create a schedule that includes specific times for studying and completing assignments. Stick to this schedule as much as possible to help you stay organized and focused. Keep your study area clean and organized to help you stay focused and avoid distractions. Make sure you have all the materials you need before you start working on the assignment. Give yourself plenty of time to complete the assignment. Starting early will help you avoid the stress of rushing to finish it at the last minute. It's important to take breaks and give your brain a rest. Take a walk, do some stretches, or listen to music. This will help you stay refreshed and focused when you return to your work. Remind yourself that you are capable of completing the assignment and that it's not as difficult as it seems. Focus on your strengths and what you've accomplished so far. Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Reach out to your professor, a tutor, or a friend for support and guidance.
Thank you comment icon I'm excited to put your great advice to good use! Shamma
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Adrian’s Answer

Feeling overwhelmed and struggling with procrastination are common issues that many students face at university. Here are some tips that can help you manage these challenges:

Break tasks into smaller chunks: If you're feeling overwhelmed by a big project or assignment, break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks. This can help you focus on one step at a time, rather than getting overwhelmed by the bigger picture.

Set achievable goals: Set realistic goals for what you want to accomplish each day, week, or semester. This can help you stay motivated and focused, rather than getting overwhelmed by everything you need to do.

Prioritize tasks: Determine which tasks are most important or urgent, and prioritize those first. This can help you avoid procrastinating on tasks that are essential for your success.

Use a planner or calendar: Use a planner or calendar to keep track of important deadlines, appointments, and tasks. This can help you stay organized and avoid feeling overwhelmed.
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Sadi’s Answer

One of the best advices my professor has given is treat procrastination like eating a frog. If you are given a task to eat a slimy frog and you procrastinate, you are going to sit and have anxiety about eating the frog all day until you finally decide to eat it. But if you eat it right when you are told to, you never have to think or worry about it again. If you procrastinate, you are just harming yourself. Another professor suggested that those who procrastinate are setting themselves up for failure. If you have a deadline to write and essay for Wednesday and it is Saturday, write the essay now because what if Wednesday night you get into a horrible car accident and you miss your deadline. You just set yourself up for failure because there will be some professors who aren’t as forgiving and will still demand for it to be done on time. Another thing that has helped me is I reward myself. If I have 5 things to get done by Sunday night and it’s Tuesday night, I’ll starved myself until I finish one assignment and then I can go grab myself a nice scrumptious dinner once I finish. Or if I finish three of the five assignments by Friday then I can go buy myself that nice piece of clothing I saw the other day. That tactic has always done well for me because I’m like a little kid and needs rewards to help me feel happy that I finished something. Another tactic is the 2 minute rule. If something takes you two minutes then do it. For example, if I can just research for 2 minutes then I have helped future me. Then once you sit down and actually start those two minutes, next thing you’ll know is it has been 30 minutes because you lost track of time finishing your research for your paper.
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