How to Stop Procrastination and Write Your Essays (By Someone Who is Definitely Not Procrastinating)

Aife McHugh guies us through avoiding the scourge of procrastinating, not just because she is procastining herself and should be doing her essays.[br]DEAR friends, study week is once more upon us. To quote the great American singer-songwriter, John Darnielle, “I want to say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet / Things will shortly get completely out of hand”.But worry not! You have myself, and eight helpful hints for how to Stop Procrastinating and Start Writing Your (damn) Essays!
  1. Stop distracting yourself
The conventional recommendation would be ‘get off the internet’, but it’s 2016, and essays involve conducting research. Instead, I’m going to let you know about Stayfocusd (for Chrome) and LeechBlock (for Firefox). These add-ons let you block certain websites, or limit the amount of time you can spend on them. Similarly, the Forest app will help you keep your hands off your phone. If you really have no self-control, get a roommate to take your phone, or ask someone to change your passwords (but dear god, make sure they write them somewhere!).
  1. Break it down
An essay is a daunting task, and not knowing where to start makes procrastinating that bit more tempting. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sit down with a cup of tea (or coffee, if you’re a diehard Jackeen), and break the task into digestible pieces. Write a list, going down to the very basics. 1: pick a title; 2: find out what lectures are relevant to that title; 3: what are the readings for those lectures. Even within the essay itself, breaking 2000 words down to (3 X 500 word body paragraphs) + (250 words each for intro and conclusion) gives you a much more concrete idea for where to go next.
  1. Let go of perfectionism
This step is very important. Some people don’t like to edit much, and I get that, but it’s better to write five mediocre sentences than spend the same amount of time agonising over one perfect phrase. To paraphrase April Young Fritz, the worst essay you turn in is better than the best essay you don’t. Examiners can’t grade what isn’t written, after all.
  1. Start small:
You remember that list from step 2? Go through it methodically, one thing at a time. If you’re feeling really stressed out, start as small as focusing for 10 minutes at a time. Set a timer, use the Pomodoro method. Don’t be afraid to adjust the ratio of study: break to fit your own attention span, but by all means, when you’re on a roll, keep going! You might surprise yourself.
  1. Read back over it
Look, if you’re reading this article, you probably aren’t leaving yourself a lot of wriggle room time before the deadline, but if you can put at least one night’s sleep between finishing the essay and handing it in, it might save your life. When you read something just after you’ve written it, your brain fills in the blanks with what you meant to say, and you won’t notice the “blah blah reference Yeats nationalism thing” bits. If you don’t have the time to spare, read it aloud at least once, or ask a friend to look at it for you.
  1. Look after yourself
Brain function depends on body function, and believe it or not, your fleshy vessel is not at its peak when you are running on zero sleep, a dinner of coffee and doughnuts, and you haven’t left your room in three days. Hydration helps.
  1. Actually do the work
I’m sorry, but it can’t be avoided. You’ve downloaded your apps, written your lists, grappled with the toxicity of perfectionism etc… now you actually have to do the work.
  1. Start now:
Why are you still reading this? Go!