My fellow architecture students, procrastination is something we all battle. We all try to avoid procrastinating, but it always finds a way to come back and haunt us.
In this episode, we’re going to put an end to procrastination in architecture school.
We’re going to discover why we procrastinate and what we can do to avoid procrastinating altogether so that you can get more important work done and spend less time stressing about your work.
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“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone” – Pablo Picasso
“You may delay, but time will not.” – Benjamin Franklin
“My advice is to never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time.” – Charles Dickens
“It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“Never put off for tomorrow, what you can do today.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Put in the hard work now and life will be easier later. Have an easy life now and life will be harder later.” – Kyle Sinko
How to Avoid Procrastinating as a Student
Stop procrastination for good.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a big project to do, a job I knew I needed done or an essay I needed to write, stressed out of my mind and pushed for time. But, if you were to open my bedroom door, you’ll find me checking my phone, opening up Instagram or binging an episode or 5 on Netflix.
You can probably relate.
Why do we procrastinate?
Well, as architects, it’s in our blood.
I can literally feel procrastination running through my veins. It’s an infection.
It starts in the studio. We’re forced to sit down for hours on end in a room filled with distractions. Friends, other projects, coffee breaks, the outside world. Procrastination happens when we’re forced to work on something, we don’t feel like doing.
We can have every moral reason to do a task, say, work on a project – because if we spend more time on that project, we can learn more, and ultimately become better at architecture which is what you’ll be spending your career doing, that seems like a pretty moral reason to work on a project.
But, if we don’t feel like doing the task, in this case, working on the project, that moral reason becomes invalid. In other words, it doesn’t matter if it’s something you need to be doing, if you don’t enjoy doing it in that moment, you won’t want to do it.
We procrastinate when we don’t enjoy doing something. So, the solution is to enjoy doing that task. We’ll get more into that soon. But, sometimes we do enjoy what we’re working on and something else will grab our attention and drive us away from, say, working on our project. You might be working on your project with some calm music, in your flow state getting lots of work done, having the time of your life but then your phone lights up. Wow! A notification, it must be important. Let me check that.
Well guess what, you’re being pulled away from doing what you should be doing, despite having a moral reason to be doing it as well as a passion for doing it. So, why does this happen? Why do we get distracted to procrastinate what we should be doing?
I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the term FOMO. FOMO is an acronym for The feeling of missing out. What if that notification is a good friend asking for some help? What if it’s a checque from the bank for $100,000? What if it’s breaking news of an alien space ship heading towards the earth and the invasion will start in 15 minutes?
You see, it’s the “what if?” It’s that fear that you’re missing out on something. It’s not just your phone or devices that distract you by making you think you’re missing out. Think back to in the studio class. Your friends, other projects, coffee breaks, the outside world are all distractions caused by FOMO. Even if you’re working head down earphones in, just the thought of these activities can steal your attention. Mental procrastination. Because you think “what if…” what if I was outside getting coffee, what if I go look at my friends project and get a really good idea for my own…
So, We’ll keep it simple. We now know that we procrastinate for 2 reasons.
- When we don’t enjoy the work we’re doing
- When we enjoy the work we’re doing but get distracted by FOMO, or the fear of missing out on something.
So… HOW CAN WE PUT AN END TO PROCRASTINATION?
Let’s start with solving the problem of not enjoying the work we’re doing.
So, sure, architects have procrastination running through their blood. But that means there’s a vaccine for it. To rid the body of procrastination by injecting a cure. And the good thing is, is that the cure is already in your blood. It comes natural to architects and students, just as procrastination does. You just need to unlock the vaccine so that you can get it flowing through your body, so that it will overtake the infection of procrastination to rid it completely.
That cure is visualisation.
I’m not talking about visualisation in the sense that you’re creating 3d renders and visualising buildings.
I’m talking about using your imagination to conjure up a vision of an end result. It’s similar to setting a goal, but it’s more real in the sense that you’re imagining the end result. You can vividly and clearly see what you want to have produced in the future.
Use your creative thoughts to create an idea of the future that motivates you. This can be short term and long term. For example, a short term goal might be that you visualise your final project being something incredible and well done. You imagine yourself presenting it in front of the class with confidence because you’ve made something great. An example of a long term goal might be that you visualise yourself working inside an architectural office as a senior designer, working with clients and designing cool buildings.
You’ve got the problem, procrastination, and you’ve got the solution, visualisation. Let’s learn a bit more about these.
Procrastination and visualisation are habits. The more you do one, the stronger it grows. It’s a matter of consciously making the right decision to not procrastinate so that your willpower can grow stronger.
Something I came up with a few years ago was the +1 -3 rule.
This rule is the idea of when you do something, for example, go to the gym, your willpower gets a score of +1. If you imagine your willpower starting with a score of 0, and you go to the gym, your willpower will have a score of 1. So that, next time, it’s that +1 more likely that you’ll say yes to doing that task.
You go to the gym, great, you’re getting results of going to the gym, you’re getting stronger, but it’s your willpower that’s also getting stronger. In fact, +1 stronger because you said yes to going to the gym.
Because the next day is easier than the last, because you now have a willpower of +1, let’s say you go to the gym 5 days in a row. Your willpower is now +5. Yeehaw!
But, what happens when you wake up on the 6th morning and say, I’m too sore to workout today. I’m not going to go to the gym?
Well, you don’t get the result of going to the gym, you’re not going to get any stronger physically. And, in fact, your willpower weakens. But, your willpower score doesn’t go down by 1. It goes down by 3.
Hence why it’s the +1, -3 rule.
Because you made the decision not to go to the gym, your willpower score is reduced by 3. So it was +5, but now it’s only +2. Your willpower is weaker for the next day. Sure it’s still positive, it’s at +2, but what happens when you start to miss multiple days in a row at the gym?
Your willpower will drop, and drop and drop until you no longer have the motivation to go to the gym.
In other words, it’s compounding.
It’s the rule around habit building. That’s why it’s usually difficult to start a habit, starting with a score of 0. But, When you stay consistent, it becomes easier and easier to do that task. When you miss a day, sure, it won’t have a huge impact, but miss consecutive days and the effects compound. Until you miss enough days that you start to drop off and the habit is broken.
My point here is that to make a change in your life, to implement a new habit, it requires consistency.
Bringing this back to architecture school and procrastination, procrastinating and visualising are habits.
That’s why it becomes so hard to break the habit of procrastination, since you’ve built up this willpower that could be -300 from all those times you decided to procrastinate.
From now on, by consciously saying no to procrastination, the next time you’re thinking about procrastinating, it’ll be a little bit easier to make the right choice, since after saying no once, your willpower is now only -299. Yayyy.
But over time, that’ll soon become -200, -100, 0, and then it gets easier and easier to say no to procrastination. You just need to stay consistent.
Don’t forget that the cure is to visualise your future to keep it in the back of your mind. This will assist you in saying no to procrastination.
Have a vivid goal that can pull you.
If you don’t have a vision of the future, it’s as if you’ve got all your architecture work, and you’re trying to push it. That’s a lot of hard work.
When you have that vision in the back of your mind, it’s like the work is pulling you. That’s a lot easier than pushing it.
Through visualisation, you’ll have solved both the problems of procrastination. Firstly being that you’ll enjoy the work you’re doing because you have that end goal in the back of your mind. It fires you up and keeps you motivated.
Secondly, it makes it a whole lot easier to put your head down and work, because you’re not fearing that you’re missing out on something else. You know what you want, so nothing else has any meaning.
There’s no more FOMO, no feeling like you’re missing out on something because you know what you want, now you just need to work for it.
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- Check out other episodes of the Successful Archi Student’s podcast!
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