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Lack of sleep always wins. Don't make the mistake of underestimating it.
As you get farther into high school, the amount of homework you have and the number of activities you are involved in will keep increasing, and your time for doing anything else (including eating, sleeping, and breathing) will steadily decrease.
But don't make the mistake that I did.
As a sophomore, I'm currently taking some of the toughest classes offered at WPS, including AP European History and the first year of IB HL Math. I'm also on the swim team (which has practice for two hours every day), I lead the school's Astronomy Club, and I am on my grade's SGA. When I started staying up till 1:00 am almost every day starting from the second week of school, I knew something was wrong. I began to feel nauseous from lack of sleep, and my constant tiredness only caused me to stay up even later some nights.
After an already exhausting week, four tests on one day near the end of the 1st Quarter was my breaking point. By the time I got to my 7th period math test, I was having trouble keeping my eyes open. I could tell that the questions on the test weren't that difficult, but I just couldn't remember how to solve them.
That test tanked my math grade to the point where I barely scraped an A for the quarter. That time I didn't have to pay for my lack of sleep with my GPA, but that doesn't mean that it can't happen.
Don't cheat yourself out of a good grade. Make sure that you try your very best to go to sleep by midnight every night. Even if you feel like you'll do better on a test if you just study for just one more hour, that one hour of sleep will cost you much more than you will gain with one hour of extra studying.
And besides a lack of sleep hurting your grades, it also hurts your overall health. A 4.0 GPA isn't going to help you if you ruin your health by not sleeping enough. Sleep is more important than perfecting your English essay or doing every single math problem in the textbook. You can't always be a perfectionist, which is something that I never really understood until this year.
So all you perfectionists and overachievers out there, please get some sleep. You know you need it.
1. Don't write down any reminders or set any alarms about when the assignment is due.
Does a recently received assignment seem too difficult or tedious? Simply don't put any measure in place to remind yourself about it. Out of sight, out of mind! This is an important first step to procrastination, as it allows you to remove the assignment from your present conscious and reduce the current amount of stress in your life.
2. Take frequent and lengthy breaks from your work.
Once you've settled in to your desk or other preferred workspace after school, feel free to play a few rounds of 2048, browse the internet, or check social media. After all, if you never took breaks, you would quickly become overworked and your work quality would suffer. Take breaks whenever you don't feel motivated to work: you need them!
3. Don't set aside time dedicated solely to working.
It would truly be a shame if your work was regimented in constricting blocks of time. Your workflow is arrhythmic, and trying to 'plan' motivation would make you even less motivated than you already were. Therefore, don't make any schedules or timetables. In this way, you'll never have to work on an assignment until you truly want too. The inspiration will strike you when you're ready!
4. Do less challenging assignments (and complete other obligations) first.
If you don't want to start that 4-page essay, you can easily put it out of your mind by doing simpler work first. Complete small assignments and do chores so that you aren't forced to cope with the difficulty of writing the essay, At least you're doing something productive, right? The essay can wait until tomorrow while you do this work.
5. Fulfill every requirement for you to work optimally.
If you find that the assignment you're working on is becoming dull and your quality of work is suffering, it's most likely because something is preventing you from working well. Perhaps it's because your room is unclean—the aura simply isn't right. To put yourself back in the right frame of mind, clean your room for now and work on the assignment later. While you're up from your desk, be sure to make your bed, eat a snack, watch some TV, and play a few games of table tennis. Once you've gotten all of that out of your system, you'll certainly be able to work much more efficiently on your assignment.
6. The assignment is due 8:00AM tomorrow and it's 10:00PM? Take an all-nighter.
Plenty of people, from mathematicians to musicians, write out their most influential proof or greatest opus in one long, uninterrupted, feverish session. What separates you from them? You need to get this assignment done somehow, even if it costs a few hours of sleep. Why not work through the night and ensure the assignment gets done.
Turn in the assignment late—or don't turn it in at all!
If you're truly opposed to doing this assignment, you don't have to finish it before the deadline—or at all! For the former, it's easy to postpone working on an assignment if a teacher only takes off 2% for each day late, or better yet, doesn't deduct points at all if you turn it in shortly after the deadline. For the latter, there's no easier way to procrastinate an assignment than if you never actually do it. So omit summative work that's difficult yet takes up a small percentage of your grade, and omit formative work entirely.
As you may have guessed while reading through the above list, I don't actually advocate that anyone procrastinate. Procrastinating is an unhealthy and unsatisfactory habit, but it's one that is remarkably easy to slip into. Because of this, everyone procrastinates to some extent. In fact, I procrastinated writing this very blog post. Since many people procrastinate, it's important to note some of the factors and justifications that contribute to procrastination. As such, the "How to Procrastinate" list is an exercise in looking at some negative actions we take so that we may see what not to do. Instead of tackling the difficult assignment, which requires effort and focus, many of us would rather resort to doing something from the list. However, it's critical that you recognize the true stress that procrastinating generates, and avoid the items on this list as you see fit. I find that in general, it's beneficial to take the opposite actions of those on this list, and the quality of your work will increase while the amount of work-related stress will decrease. Take all of this with a grain of salt though, as something that works for me may not work you, and vice versa. But no matter how you conquer procrastination, doing so is certainly advantageous