Practical Nursing student Marayanne Patacairk studies in the B-building. Photo credit: Stephen Priel

Algonquin College’s annual Procrastination Awareness Week highlighted the risks of putting off tasks as final exams approach.

The purpose of PAW was to raise awareness of procrastination and address what it is, how to deal with it and how to teach students productivity-boosting techniques.

Ahmed Elbadri, a student success specialist, is one of the people students can speak with. Elbadri offered suggestions on how to reduce procrastination, even in doing menial tasks.

“Procrastination is normal, everyone does it, but it’s how much of it we do. The best way to combat it is reminders. On my phone, I have reminders for daily things that are common. For example, I have on there call my mom. It’s my mom I’ve known her for years, since I was born, but I forget,” said Elbadri.

Elbadri said there is often a key mistake students make when it comes to mitigating the effects of procrastination.

“They do what they think will work but not what works for them. I have students that come in and say, ‘I have this timetable, or a calendar and I write in it every day.’ I ask them how often do you look at it in a day? Their response will be, ‘Well, once maybe,’ and they stutter and that is an indication it doesn’t work for them, so I tell them try grabbing Post-it notes and putting reminders everywhere.”

Counsellors are another resource available to students. Students can find them on the third level of the Student Commons.

Doug Stringer, manager of Algonquin’s Counselling Services and Welcome Centre, outlined the measures students should take to better understand what’s causing procrastination in the first place. He offered recommendations on how to minimize it.

“I think the cliché is that if you recognize the problem, that’s the first step,” said Stringer.

Stringer also emphasized the importance of simply getting started on the work at hand. He emphasized the point by giving an example many students will be all too familiar with.

“I think the second thing would be to find a way to get started. For example, there’s a report that feels like it’s going to take me so long to do and I don’t have the energy, so you make a deal with yourself and say I’m going to write one paragraph of this report. I am just going to get started rather than saying I’ve got this 90-minute-long project ahead of me and I just don’t have the energy. Maybe there’s 20 minutes I can do right now that will get me started,” said Stringer.

Megan Zorn, a public relations student at the college, has the same opinions as Stringer regarding the best methods to stop procrastinating.

“I guess starting an assignment more than a day before it’s due and planning it out and chipping away at it,” said Zorn when asked how she avoids procrastination.

It is obvious that procrastination is a difficult habit to break, but with Stringer’s powerful metaphor, progress may be achieved.

“If you have to eat a frog, eat it first thing in the morning. If you have to eat two frogs, eat the big one first,” said Stringer.