“There’s no time like the present” is a popular saying that directs wandering eyes towards the beauty that lies in front of them. Many college students, however, conveniently choose to forget that the present is a temporary space in time whenever an assignment, project, or midterm is due. A giant wall of available entertainment and previously neglected (and irrelevant) tasks thunderously rises from the ground. Why finish that final term paper when all the stationery you haven’t touched needs to be sorted? Dorm items that can help you stay on top of your work are essential to battle procrastination.
A 2007 study reported that 80 to 95 percent of college students engage in procrastination, with around 50 percent considering it problematic to their everyday life. And it was found that on average, more males procrastinate than females.
According to a survey conducted by Rowan University, students with lower external motivation are more likely to procrastinate, and those with internal motivation are more likely to complete tasks regardless of their level of engagement with them.
The origins of such behavior ought to be pursued and remedied, then, through psychological coping mechanisms and supplementary dorm room items. The only thing better than knowing what to do to get over that wall of distraction is having the right tools to make your way to the other side.
These are 5 dorm items you can use to battle procrastination:
An adhesive whiteboard sticker
Research shows that procrastination is often a result of being confronted by meaningful tasks, rather than laziness. Students might spend an unnecessary amount of time examining their physical, creative, or logical competence in their engagement with a task and ultimately put it off. As a result, not only do they underestimate their potential and perform poorly, but they also lose productivity. A study conducted in 2016 also concluded that focusing on goal pursuit and the process of achieving a goal helps increase focus and therefore reduces productivity.
Breaking down, planning, and tracking a mountainous goal can therefore be beneficial to ensuring a better outcome.
Writing out the various nuts and bolts associated with the final product will help you visualize the task and prepare for it mentally. An adhesive whiteboard sticker is an especially effective dorm room item as it is portable, does not require a hook, and can be as large as preferred without taking up too much space when not on the wall.
These window-sized stickers can be used to write out deadlines, schedules, syllabi, or steps to implementing a term-long project. They can also be used for daily purposes, such as to-do lists or quickly jotting down phone numbers lest they get lost.
A lockbox with a timer
Procrastination and distraction are like two peas in a pod, with one enabling the other. A study conducted by Wendelien Van Eerde notes the role of voluntary distraction as a coping mechanism to “escape emotional distress” in favor of short-term reward. Since these are considered activities that one “regrets having done afterwards, but [were] not on top of a priority list,” boxes that lock items of distraction in for a specific duration of time may help.
Other dorm room items such as console controllers, speakers, various snacks, or any item not essential to the task at hand can be locked away for an hour or two. This will leave the procrastinator with no choice but to begin their task, under the knowledge that their items won’t be available to them for that duration. Out of sight, out of mind.
A digital coin box
A second useful item that complements distraction-avoidance is long-term rewards. Immediate rewards such as entertainment and free time are always available — however, once the full task is complete, there is no congratulatory reinforcement of accomplishment. It would be good practice, then, to build up to a greater reward as time progresses when tackling a big project.
With each smaller task successfully completed, a certain amount of money can be dropped into a digital coin box. The more time or energy-consuming the task, the more money can be dropped in. Alternatively, the higher the amount of productivity in relation to hours put into the task, the greater the amount can be.
Coin boxes or containers are already typical essential items within a dorm room; one that counts your money and lets you know exactly how much time you’ve invested in your work could be even more useful.
You put in more effort than was required? Drop some coins in. The task was harder than you expected and took longer? Acknowledge that work. When the goal is finally complete, you can treat yourself to an item of luxury or practicality that would not usually be considered necessary to own. This positive reinforcement can help summon up some motivation when it is not readily available.
A photo frame of someone you look up to
Photo frames are effective in serving purposes involving sentiment, especially when one is away from home. Research shows that the “Hawthorne effect,” a psychological effect involving being observed, has an effect on our behavior. The human brain is wired to be sensitive to facial features, such as the presence of eyes. This awareness, also called “gaze detection,” can alter the way we behave when we think we’re being passively observed.
Therefore, it would be effective to keep a picture of someone you look up to — perhaps a family member, person of interest, figure of authority, or famous celebrity — on your desk or workstation. This will convince your subconscious that you must not let them down.
Photo frames are a common and affordable item present in dorm rooms already. Such a practice may be especially helpful considering the tendencies to remain indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, or when access to a quiet public place is not available.
College dorms can be noisy and riddled with distractions that “I swear I’ll just take a minute to check out.” Be it friends, notoriously loud fire alarms two buildings away, music, or even faraway sounds of airplanes or construction, procrastination is best avoided when it is not fed with momentary loss of focus.
Noise-cancelling headphones paired with looped sounds of nature or soothing music can help maintain the focus you need to get a task done. Internal sources of distractions like other tasks, commitments, and responsibilities may also make their way into our periphery and demand our attention.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is a useful way of tackling task-completion in the face of distractions. It involves immersing oneself in a task for 25 minutes, all the while writing down any present distractions on a piece of paper and taking a short break.
Once each 25-minute task is done, a checkmark is put on a piece of paper. Every five 25-minute sessions, a longer break can be taken. In this way, the tasks that have accumulated towards a deadline can be completed with full focus.
Procrastination is confronted by every student at least once during their college experience. While the mindset to avoid or diminish its effects cannot be materialized and purchased, certain dorm room items may do wonders in taking that first step.