Last week was Law Student Mental Health Awareness Week, and it got me thinking about my mental health and how I’ve managed the stress of law school over the last two years.
A topic that came to mind as I was beginning the process of writing this blog post was procrastination. If you’re like me, you don’t struggle with procrastination. You’re actually very good at it!
We somehow find productive things to do rather than the tasks we know we should be doing. We’ll reorganize the pantry, we’ll go for a long run, we may even research the psychology behind procrastinating … while procrastinating.
It starts off fun, but as the deadline gets closer, the fun starts to dissipate and the panic begins to set in. You get mad at yourself for procrastinating, question why you do this to yourself every time, and swear you’ll never do it again.
So why do we do it? Are we really just lazy?
As it turns out, procrastinators aren’t lazy. However, that is one of the most common myths surrounding procrastination. Procrastination isn’t about avoiding work, but avoiding the negative feelings that beginning a task may conjure up, such as feelings of incompetency, insecurity, fear of failure, or anxiety. By putting that task aside, those negative emotions are put aside for just a little while longer.
But there’s hope! As finals are approaching and our time becomes more and more valuable, there are some tactics we can implement to help us procrastinate procrastinating and improve our mental health.
Start by being kinder to yourself about your past procrastination. Forgive yourself. Research shows that students who forgave themselves for their past procrastination in studying for exams are less likely to procrastinate in preparing for their next exam. Be aware of how you talk to yourself about your work ethic. Remember, you aren’t just lazy!
Next, begin to be strategic with how you spend your time. Make a plan for your week and schedule time to do the things that are most important. Coming up with a system for yourself will set you up for success instead of relying on what you know you “should” be doing for motivation.
Breaking down a task into smaller parts and setting individual deadlines will help a project feel less intimidating while giving you a sense of success in completing each small task. Be intentional in creating a healthy relationship with deadlines. Do your best to set realistic expectations for yourself but remember to forgive yourself when things don’t work out exactly as planned.
-By Lexi Christopher, a 3L from Denver and a KU Law Ambassador