Wait, it’s Monday already?? You stumble out of bed. No way. The project is due in less than 48 hours. You sigh frustratedly and open your computer to begin the essay your teacher gave you a month to do.

How many of us have been there? I know I have.

Whether you’re the try-hard or the slacker student, you know projects can get super stressful super fast, especially with the clocks that seem to get faster with every tick.

What if I told you it didn’t have to be like that?

It took me a long eight years to realize how humans work… and they still confuse me sometimes. Heck, even I confuse myself sometimes. But I believe I have finally cracked the code to solving procrastination. I can proudly say that so far this year I have been successful in meeting a surprising majority of my goals ahead of time. As one who understands the pain and panic that parties in the mind of a procrastinator, I feel it is my duty to reveal my insight on the issue so that you can put an end to those lazy procrastination days.

First, let me hone in on exactly what procrastination is, and why and how high schoolers become experts at it.

Procrastination is the “action of delaying or postponing something,” according to the Oxford Dictionary. It is the puzzle you never finished, the laundry sitting on your chair, the next episode of the show you know you cannot afford to watch, the little child in you that just wants to play, constantly. It does not want you to work— and will do everything it can to delay progress in goals.

That clashes greatly with what every high school reeks with— stress. Since the age of 5, we have had our homework and studying methods laid out for us by our teachers. High school is when the tables are turned and it’s often up to a student to work independently and reach out to a teacher for help. If a student chooses not to behave or study, the consequences are not as immediate as they once were. It’s up to that student to responsibly check their grades online, or they’ll be caught by horrific surprise when they receive their report card. Thus, high schoolers must make a conscious decision to motivate themselves and maintain that mindset throughout the entire year. This mindset can and will be affected, either positively or negatively, by one’s teachers and family and friends and love and money and health… and just about anything in one’s life.

Laziness creeps in when you’re looking the other direction, and before you know it you’re up the night before a project is due. Now, it is likely you’ve turned in that crappy project and gotten an A on it. Before you know it, you’ve integrated procrastination into your lifestyle because it works!…. For now.

As we delve into more challenging courses, time speeds up. Things don’t look the way we expect them to. You hastily just threw together another project and chucked it at the teacher? Yeah, it’s in the trash now. You failed. High school exposes us to bits and pieces of the harsh world out there, and this is one of them. Working under extreme pressure and time limits can only get you so far.

I was meant to finish this essay an hour ago so I could practice my violin and sleep, but that’s okay. I am writing this ahead of time, thanks to my planner. My planner provides a space for me to cleanse my mind of any scary deadline dates or parties to remember. Once I have all the things cluttering my mind written on paper, I can breathe and calmly prioritize what must be done first. Then, using tools like Trello or Google Calendar, I can add reminders that I’ll be carrying with me everywhere I go, in my pocket on my phone. These deadlines are organized in a way that makes me feel put together even when I’m not. The lone fact that everything is written down is enough to calm my nerves and focus on what must be completed first. Setting personal deadlines is the high school equivalent to the annoying teacher in 1st grade that would remind you at the beginning and end of every class to bring in that dang SSR book. Setting personal goals for yourself way before a project is due will place just enough pressure on you to get it done, described perfectly and in depth by this TedTalk: https://youtu.be/arj7oStGLkU (“Inside the mind of a master procrastinator | Tim Urban” Posted by TED on YouTube).

Now that you know how to tackle procrastination, you can win the battle in your mind. Set achievable goals. Together, we can defeat the procrastinator in ourselves, one deadline at a time.