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How to Navigate the 5 Stages of Procrastination and Not Panic (with Ryan Gosling GIFs)

Written by Kelsey Levins

Every SLNer knows the feeling of too much homework. Textbooks pile up on your dresser like an unmovable weight. You suddenly have no idea how to breathe.

I’m here to talk about the five stages of procrastination and what to do if you’ve procrastinated through any of them, which, let’s be honest, we’ve all done.

The “It’s so far away, it’s no big deal” stage:

This one snuggles up to you with a false sense of security and whispers comforting lies in your ear. The truth is that this is the optimal stage to start your work. You’re not panicked. You haven’t started stress crying. You have so much time. At this stage, begin your research and start to make a rough outline.

If you’ve procrastinated up to this stage? Fortunately for you, it’s not that tragic. Even though this stage can be the most helpful, it is also the most forgivable. You’re good.

The “Uh… that assignment is due soon-ish” stage:

This is when you realize you should really get your butt in gear. Like the previous stage, it’s not demanding, but it’s useful. Take those outlines you did before and start making notes on the research that you’ve been doing. Get yourself a little closer to the finished product, stress-free.

If you’ve procrastinated up to this stage? Get started on those outlines and extensive research. Try not to overwhelm yourself with the upcoming deadline. Use a calendar or whiteboard to map it out.

The “Oh shit! It’s due this week” stage:

This is when things get serious. Strap yourself down, put on that thinking helmet, and eat your vegetables. Take all the notes you’ve made, and write your first draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect yet, just get it down. Letting the first draft sit for a couple of days is the best way to catch mistakes.

If you’ve procrastinated up to this stage? Your days are going to get longer because more work needs to be done in a shorter amount of time. The best way to do this is in smaller portions. Break up your work into manageable pieces. Once each stage is complete, give yourself a reward (watch an episode of TV, eat a lollipop, take a nap; anything that brings those stress levels back down). It will take longer than a hardcore cram-session, but you will feel much better in the end.

This is also the best time to contact your prof for any assistance.


First things first: DON’T PANIC!

It’s counter-productive and difficult to see your assignment through all the tears. Take a deep breath. Don’t think about percentages or the future. Think about right now. You still have time to do your work. If you haven’t procrastinated, firstly, a gentle pat on the back. This is the day where you edit your first draft and hone a finished assignment that glows and sings when you lift it into the sky.

If you’ve procrastinated up to this stage? It’s still doable. The best things to do are calm down and breathe. Stress will only make this harder. Once you’ve relaxed, sit down and write out a checklist for everything that this assignment needs. Like before, you want to break that up and do it piece by piece. Remember, you have more time than you realize. Work on it piece by piece and if you need a moment, take it. Make sure to work on it in a manner that allows you to stay calm. Do it in groups, or riddled with naps, or filled with candy and endless cups of coffee—anything that keeps you working until it’s finished.

The “It’s due today” stage:

It’s not in all-caps because the panic is over. The deadline is here. End of adventure. Hand in that glowing piece of workmanship and go get a drink. You deserve it.

If you’ve procrastinated up to this stage? You still have a few options. First, some professors will dock a certain percentage for a late assignment, but sometimes losing that 5% is better than getting a goose egg. Take another day. Secondly, you can always e-mail your professor and see if they have office hours where you can go talk to them face to face about the possibility of a make-up assignment.

In the end, there is never a reason to explode in panic. Stay calm. 

You are more important than the assignment in the end.

Photo courtesy of Discutivo

*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.