How To Cope With Task Paralysis as a Student
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How To Cope With Task Paralysis as a Student

Zoe Kramer January 5, 2023

Speak Up. Reach Out is Freshered's mental health initiative.

Do you ever feel like you can’t do anything when you have an appointment, event, or commitment coming up? Do you struggle to fill the time with productive tasks even if you have hours before you need to leave? If that’s the case, you might be encountering something called task paralysis. Task paralysis is a form of procrastination where your brain opts for a freeze response when you don’t have what it considers the right conditions to get things done. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy or incompetent. There are ways to make it easier to deal with, however. So here is how you can cope with task paralysis as a student.

Block Your Time

Work backwards from when you need to head out and count how much time you have. From there, divide up your time into chunks that you can dedicate to different assignments. Don’t worry too much about how much you’re getting done — the main thing is that you’re making an effort towards it. You can designate the last chunk of time as a reward period where you can do something you enjoy.

Work With Someone

For some people, it’s easier to work when there’s someone else in the room. Invite someone over to study together. This doesn’t have to involve collaboration, though this can be helpful if you’re covering the same topic. The main thing is that you have someone to hold you accountable so you don’t wander too far off what you’re meant to be doing.

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

See also: Tips For Succeeding In A Group Project

Set a Timer

If you struggle with keeping track of time, setting a timer can help ease some of the stress of remembering your upcoming appointment. Before you get to work, set your timer so that you have plenty of time to get ready once it goes off. Then, you can start working on your tasks without the distraction of having to check the time.

Do an Okay Job

A big part of how you can cope with task paralysis is working on letting go of perfectionism. Consider your tasks as something to be completed rather than perfected. You’ll be much better off having finished an assignment and done a decent job of it rather than waiting so that you can do it perfectly. While the conditions of waiting for something can make it difficult to do your best, it’s better to do good enough than to do nothing at all.

Easy Tasks Count

This might not be the time to tackle that essay you need to work on or that major house clean. Instead, see if you can do something that doesn’t require too much effort, but is still productive nonetheless. Laundry, tidying, or answering a quick email are all great options for something that you can do without intensive concentration.

See also: Does Music Help You Study?

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Zoe Kramer has been writing for GRV Media’s student-centric website Freshered since October 2022 and is now also contributing to HITC. She graduated from Cardiff University in 2022 with a BA in Journalism, Media and English Literature. During her time in university, she worked for her student newspaper as well as completing an internship with a book publisher. She has also written and continues to write book and theatre reviews. She is excited to now be pursuing a career as a journalist and learning something new every day. In particular, she loves writing about student life, books, the Internet, and travel. Originally from the United States, she is enjoying living abroad in the UK.