You log into Facebook and read friends’ wall posts, when you know you should be reading Lolita for class. You start organizing the clothes in your closet by color, and even start folding your delicate unmentionables, placing them inside your top drawer in careful squares. You’re so desperate for anything else to do, instead of diligently working on the seven-page English paper that is due in three days. Now you’re watching reruns on Hulu, and then you may pause Hulu, respond to your Facebook updates, replay the youtube clip of “Marcel the Shell with Shoes on” for the umpteenth time, laughing hysterically with your roommate and quote the shell as if the words he utters express your new religion. You begin to unravel a tangled necklace, and wonder when motivation will find you; maybe you will have an epiphany while peeling apart your split ends. More likely, you will have to face the facts: you’ve boarded a one way train to Procrastinationopolis, located in the heart of Distractionville. Feeling hopeless and stranded? Don’t worry: that’s only more wasted time. Be proactive, take simple actions and you will be striding down Productive Street with effortless swag.

K.I.S.S. – Keep It Simple Stupid:
Prioritize your life by using the K.I.S.S. Method. When you Keep It Simple, Stupid, the main benefit is that you will be finished with whatever basic task or goal your extravagant ideas were inhibiting you from completing on time. We should never give up on our dreams to expand upon lavish projects we long to accomplish, but for the purposes of excelling in school, we must prioritize. Get simple projects out of the way first, and leave a block of time to work on a bigger project, little by little everyday. This means, if I have simple homework assignment due on the computer by 11pm, and a difficult essay due in 2 weeks, I should do my computer homework first, and then work on a little bit of the essay every single day for 2 weeks. Do not leave all of your assigned textbook reading until the day before and the morning of the test. To do so would be breaking the K.I.S.S method.

Change your study environment
… to a place with minimal distractions. Since I associate my bedroom as my sanctuary to get away from the daily grind, I am psychologically incapable of studying in that particular space. My sheets call for me to get under them, and all of a sudden every electronic I own is spread out on my bed (laptop, mp3 player, kindle, cell phone, sometimes even my camera) all turned on; my mind turned off to studying altogether! An intelligent way to fix this scenario is to leave the bedroom and go to a quiet place where other students are studying. If like me, you are a lazy-bone to the core, so do not sit in a big, comfy chair; this will only remind you of your bed, it may be even cozier than your bed (depending if you have a residence hall mattress, ouch.) and you will be dreaming in no time. Instead sit at a desk, with other people sitting next to you. They are intently focused and studying, and suddenly your competitive edge comes out and you want to excel along with your peers in the library. Wilson, Undergraduate, and Davis libraries are all great places to buckle down, with no distractions.

Put away your communicative electronics
…in small increments each day.
It may be challenging to wean yourself from engaging in facebook, texts, BBM, skype, Windows Live Messenger, emails, and phone calls, but if you can manage to go just one hour one day, and two hours the next, you will eventually be able to focus on the present moment. This may even make you a better friend, because you will become a better listener to your friends without having to respond to a half-dozen forms of social media. You will definitely become a better student because you will not have distractions to take you away from your interesting studies. Let the words in your textbook talk to you.

If you must listen to music
…listen to calming music with a slow beat. So save your fist pumping Tiesto mega mix for the club, and instead download songs with a serene, laid-back beat. The I-tunes store has a whole list of music to listen to while studying. A few of my personal favorite tracks to study to include, Desree—You Gotta Be, Mellowdrone—Orange Marmalade, The Wallflowers—One Headlight, Cutting Crew—I just Died in Your Arms, Sade— And I Miss You (Okay, pretty much all alternative music from the 90s is going to make your time studying the most relaxing task you accomplish within your day!)

Get a planner, and use it.
If you already have one, take it out of your junk drawer. Most smart phones come with applications for taking down notes, and to do lists. These come in handy for short term goals, but make sure to write down long term obligations in your planner, and refer to the dates ahead of time so you don’t have to waste memory space thinking of everything that has to be done. Some successful individuals even keep post it notes everywhere throughout the house, so that if an idea pops in mind, you never forget and the constant visual reminders will help you “get er’ done.” I have a digital post it note on my desktop, which reads: Stop Procrastinating! It serves as a great reminder for every time I sit down with my laptop. Post-Its reinforce making a decision to waste time or use it to your advantage.

These tips will enable you to stop avoiding hitting the books, and make a productive student out of even the worst procrastinator, me. (Hey, did anyone catch that writing this blog is a form of procrastination from schoolwork on my part!) It would be wise if I start taking my own advice.

– Kristen Cubero