Motivation Mondays are about more than just fitness and eating well. This column is about improving your mental health as well.

As college students, we are more vulnerable to stress than the rest of the 18 to 25 year old population. The leading causes of stress for college students revolves around the overwhelming amount of academic work, finding a good job and paying personal bills. However, a common theme in dorm rooms throughout the country is procrastination.

Procrastination is an overall unhealthy habit that can have more negative effects than meets the eye.

If you have ever had an all-night cram session before a big test, then you have probably suffered from some of the physical effects of procrastination.

Lack of sleep leads to irritability, inability to focus, drowsiness and mental fatigue. Just one or two nights like this a week can have profound effects on your mental health, not to mention your academic standing too.

Surprisingly, creating a habit of all-nighters can make you sick more often. This is because reoccurring stress will weaken the immune system overtime.

Putting things off until the last minute, rather it be basic homework, an appointment with your advisor or submitting paperwork for financial aid can create a mental fog.

This means you have so many thoughts running through your head throughout the day that your brain feels bogged down. You may struggle to recall information, experience labored thinking about simple problems or tension headaches and migraines.

To put the dangers of procrastination into prospective, it is important to know that those that face constant anxiety and stress share common symptoms with those that cigarette smokers. Hypertension, frequent colds, shortness of breath and shorter lifespans are just a few similarities.

Below are some tips and advice on how to organize your time so procrastination will be a thing of the past.

Use an Agenda

Incorporating a planner into your life will immediately take your stress level down. Instead of having your academic assignments, bill due dates and meeting times floating in your head, you will have them physically written down. At a quick glance, you can see what is due today, next week and next month.

Set a Timer

With phones, tablets and computers continually distracting us, an assignment that should take 30 minutes, ends up taking us two hours. Using an alarm system can fix that problems. As you sit down to work on an assignment set an alarm on your phone for 50 minutes in the future. Work diligently. When the alarm sounds, take a ten minute break. If you are still not finished with your work, repeat the process until you are.

Photo by Quan Siler


Rank the Importance

Generally, an online quiz that ends in an hour is more important than a season premiere that will re-air in an hour. You must rank the importance of everything you planned and complete the most important activities or assignments first.

Break Down the Assignment

Many students will view a big project with many requirements and immediately put it off, simply due to the size being overwhelming. Projects like this should be read over and broken down into mini assignments as soon as possible. Instead of trying to complete everything in one night, complete one small part every day for a week or two. When everyone else is cramming, you will be finalizing and relaxing.

Make a To-Do List

After writing in your agenda, you may realize some days are just busier than others. During a really busy day, it may be easier to procrastinate than to tackle every activity. The key is to make daily to-do lists. Write down everything that you need to get done along with time limits to get it done. This will provide a structured challenge for your day and you will be constantly reminded of what still needs to get done.