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Opinion: Learning to control your procrastination starts with small steps

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Have a problem with love or life in general? Send Ogonna your questions at askogonna@gmail.com and get them answered here in her column. You can also tweet her at @askogonna.

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Reader: I like someone, but don’t want to tell them. What should I do?

Ogonna: I don’t know about you, but I wish my life were a Disney movie when it comes to crushes. Life would be so much easier if I could just break into song and dance, conveying my feelings in a solo that magically turns into a duet when my crush reveals — through musical harmony — that he feels the same way.

But that’s not reality. In reality, sharing romantic feelings is not as easy as following the sentiment of Hilary Duff’s song “Why Not?” We have a lot of reasons why not, and they all stem from our very valid fears of rejection.

You don’t have to feel pressure to tell this person, anyway. But if you want to, follow Hilary’s advice (no matter how hard): “It might take a little, and it might take a lot, but why not?”

Somebody has to make the first move, so why can’t it be you?

You’ll never know if you don’t try.

(Insert any other cliché on taking chances.)

Truthfully, the fear of being rejected is worse than actually being rejected, because at least you had the courage and confidence to try. You will forever be living in what-ifs when you let that fear get in the way.

Worst-case scenario, the awkwardness will pass. You’ll meet someone else. You’ll realize this person might not have been good for you. You’ll move on.

Or best-case scenario, this person will like you back. And you’ll get to have your own Troy Bolton and Gabriella Montez moment, or whatever other couple you emulate. You’ll never know if this could be the start of something new.

Reader: How do I stop procrastinating during finals week?

Ogonna: Easy — you don’t. If you are anything like the typical college student, you know fully well that procrastination is inevitable when studying. The key to manage your procrastination tendencies is to figure out why you are procrastinating and limit those reasons.

There is more to procrastination than simply a lack of motivation. In fact, while many believe it is motivation that drives action, I believe it actually works vice versa. It’s often hard to take that first step, open that textbook and start writing down notes. But once you get the ball rolling, it’s a lot easier to keep it going. We crave instant gratification, and studying dry material is often not satisfying. If you need motivation to study, think of long-term goals, or reflect upon what you had to sacrifice to bring you to this moment in your education today — anything that encourages you to keep succeeding in school, and use that to motivate yourself.

Reviewing material early is a great way to avoid being overwhelmed by cramming, but many of us still find ourselves pulling our hair out at the wee hours of the morning before an exam. Since time travel has yet to be invented, you have to be both practical and optimistic about what you can do with the time you have in the present and stop regretting what you “could’ve, should’ve, would’ve” done and focus on what you will do.

Changing your attitude can help with this. Having a defeatist attitude might come naturally when we face overwhelming projects because we fear that we will fail no matter how long we study, or how much work we do, so what’s the point? We give up before we even give ourselves a chance. By breaking down study materials into smaller chunks and devoting reasonable amounts of time to study each section, you make the task plausible, which allows your brain to tackle things more effectively and efficiently.

With our easy access to the Internet at our fingertips, we must limit distractions to eliminate “FOMO” (fear of missing out). So what if everyone else is having a party on Oval Beach? This wouldn’t affect you if you put your phone on airplane mode or got off of your crush’s Instagram page. If you must feel connected to the outside world while studying, find a place outside you know you won’t see your friends, or sit on a windowsill nook and people-watch during short study breaks.

Don’t overwhelm yourself with material, or get bogged down by your workload. A positive mindset and inspiring surroundings can do a lot to change your perspective of success. School isn’t over yet, so exit out of your Netflix tab (at least for a few hours), and keep pushing through.

Remember, you have just as many hours in a day as Beyoncé. Make sure they count.

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