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Taking charge of your RHeality

Updated: Jan 20

From Gremlin to Guru: Transform Your Procrastination into Power

Written by Clarissa Ryanputri & Goh Zhen Kang

University life: a whirlwind of deadlines, exams, social pressures, and the ever-present question, "What am I doing with my life?" Amidst the chaos, it's easy to feel like you're simply along for the ride, tossed around by external forces. But what if you could take the reins and actively shape your own reality?

As a university student, you possess immense potential to design your own path and build a life that resonates deeply with you. It's not about controlling every aspect of your environment, but about consciously choosing your direction and taking responsibility for your growth and success.

Now, we’re not some ivory-towered professor spouting wisdom from afar. We’re fellow students, knee-deep in the trenches of deadlines, fueled by the same breakfasts in Hall and the occasional burst of inspiration. But through it all, we’ve stumbled upon some life hacks, learned from epic fails, and even managed to squeeze out a few A's in between all the late-night supper runs!

As such, here are five steps to help you unlock your inner architect:

Step 1: Demolish the Walls of Limiting Beliefs

Forget the picture-perfect dream boards plastered on Pinterest. Your life isn't about achieving some sanitised utopia; it's about celebrating the vibrant mess you are! Embrace the kaleidoscope of your passions, the scribbles of your dreams, and the jagged edges of your unique personality. Don't shy away from contradictions – who says you can't crave both Nobel Prize glory and a dance career at the same time? Back in 2016, The University of Cambridge even used salsa to explain bioengineering, winning a Nobel Prize! Own your beautiful, messy masterpiece of a life! 

Sometimes, getting swamped in seriousness and responsibilities can suck the joy right out of our lives. That's when it's time to unleash the inner goofball! Learn to juggle oranges, or invent your own secret handshake – who cares if it has no practical use? The pure joy of exploring the quirky corners of your mind is its own reward.

The point is, ditch the pressure and reclaim your inner child. Sprinkle some whimsy into your day, even if it's just a few minutes of silly fun. You might just rediscover the joy of being alive, and hey – you might even learn a thing or two along the way. So, go forth and paint your world with a rainbow of whimsy!

Step 2: Craft Your Blueprint, Define Your Vision

When the walls are demolished and the dust has cleared, it’s time to start rebuilding from the ground up. After all, crafting a plan for how you’re going to tackle your future goals is the first step to making them come true. But what happens if you don’t know where to start?

Luckily, there are countless methods and apps online designed to help streamline the planning process and improve your productivity. Although there are many famous ones commonly used by students – the Pomodoro method, Notion and Forest, for example – there are lesser-known and slightly more unorthodox methods for those who have found the common ways lacking. Here’s three of them!

Writing Sprint

Staring at that blank Microsoft Word document, at a loss on how to start? Similar to the Pomodoro method, writing sprints are focused on getting tasks done – in this case, writing – within a set period of time, usually anywhere from ten minutes to an hour. However, unlike the Pomodoro method, which can be applied to many subjects and achieve many goals, writing sprints have a singular purpose: write as much as you can within the given time limit with a clear intention.

For example, that essay that’s due at 2359 really needs a completed body paragraph and conclusion. By doing a 20 minute writing sprint and writing anything that comes into your mind for your paragraph and conclusion, you’ll end up with a sizable chunk of word vomit that you can then edit and cut down to size. Many people will agree that it’s easier to edit text than write a completely new paragraph – writing sprints just help the process along. 

Ironically enough, by prioritising word count over the quality of writing, sprints can help with perfectionism and procrastination, especially when you’re overthinking that starting paragraph of your essay because it needs to be perfect. It’s much easier to focus on writing as much as you can than making each word and sentence sound perfect – proofreading can always come later. 

Personal Kanban

Source: Smartsheet

Personal Kanban is a system used by many to divide their tasks into three categories: things to be done, work in progress (WIPs) and tasks that have been completed. By dividing tasks, you can obtain a clearer visualisation of what you have started and what you need to finish. For those who often abandon work halfway through a session, this method can help to refocus your attention on things that are already half-done, so that you have as little WIPs as possible. This method can also be used as a general to-do list for items that you need to tackle next. 


The Todomate website’s layout, with all of Clarissa’s friends’ names censored for privacy. :) 

When all else fails, there’s always the power of – you guessed it – social pressure! For those who prefer using apps to keep track of their work and how much they have to do each day, Todomate is a productivity app available as a website and downloadable on iOS and Android

Similar to some Notion layouts, Todomate relies on a “checklist” format to keep track of the tasks you have to do, organisable by category and colour. Although it offers most of the basic functionalities you can expect from a productivity app, Todomate relies on a relatively unique system to incentivise you to do work – your friends.

It’s also a social app, where you can add friends and see what they make public on their schedules. Each time one of your friends completes their task, Todomate sends a notification– as a reminder that your friend circle’s being productive while you’re lazing about in bed. There are also little emotes available with the Todomate mascot, which you can use to react to your friends’ completed tasks in order to cheer them on and congratulate them virtually. 

Clarissa’s Todomate getting flooded with notifications about her friends being productive while she’s on vacation – an unfortunate side effect.

Although Todomate’s “societal pressure” gimmick might not be the best for everyone, especially those who are prone to stressing out or self-comparison, it can also provide that last bit of motivation you might need to finish a task. It also helps knowing that you’re not the only one doing work, and that there will be friends online to cheer you on the moment you finish your work. 

Regardless of what you choose to use for your own workflow, or whether you combine them to get the best possible results, productivity methods and apps are here to help you do one thing: visualise your workflow and what you want to do. Choosing a way to organise your work can go a long way in redefining your workflow and envisioning what you want to do in the future. 

Step 3: Ditch the Blame Game, Embrace the Remote Control

Ever had your phone die right as you found the perfect meme? Frustrating, right? But instead of shaking your fist at the sky and cursing the phone gods, what if you remembered you have a charger? Taking ownership isn't about beating yourself up; it's about recognizing you hold the remote to your own reality.

Sure, some things are out of your control – that surprise pop quiz, the rogue pigeon crapping on your textbook. But dwelling on those is like staring at a blank TV screen, hoping for "Game of Thrones" to magically appear. Instead, focus on the channels you can change: your study habits, your sleep schedule, even your reaction to the pigeon incident (maybe laughter is the best disinfectant?).

I ever had a pigeon poop on my textbook ;-; Source: Wrok

This isn't about toxic positivity; it's about acknowledging the messy, sometimes hilarious hand you've been dealt and figuring out how to play it to your advantage. Missed class? Own it, figure out what went wrong, and negotiate a makeup plan like a boss. Bombed a presentation? Dust yourself off, learn from the fumbles, and rock the next one like a PowerPoint Picasso. Failure is just the way the universe gives us feedback! You just need to temper your ego enough to hear it!

Taking responsibility isn't about being perfect; it's about being the director, the editor, the star of your own weird and wonderful show. So grab the popcorn, embrace the bloopers, and rewrite your script into a masterpiece of resilience and resourcefulness. Remember, the remote is in your hand; channel your inner Captain Quirky and steer your life towards whatever hilarious, heartwarming, messy adventure awaits.

And hey, if the pigeon incident really gets you down, maybe invent a pigeon-repellent app. Who knows, you might just turn an annoying situation into your next side hustle! Just remember, the power to change the channel, even if it's just one blip at a time, is always yours. Now go forth and unleash your inner remote-wielding superhero!

Step 4: Beat procrastination, embrace the momentum of chaos!

Forget the self-help sermons dripping with sunshine and rainbows where everyone's a productivity unicorn galloping through life while you're stuck riding a procrastination donkey backwards. We're not here to sell you snake oil promises or tell you that "one tiny tweak" will magically turn you into a master of getting things done. This is a rebellion against the beige of boring routines and the bland advice of self-help gurus who haven't actually stepped off their meditation cushions since 1998.

Instead, let's embrace the gremlin, the mischievous imp whispering "later" in your ear. We'll weave him into the tapestry of your life, not as a foe, but as a playful sprite who adds a dash of chaos and a sprinkle of fun to your quest for getting things done.

Adding controlled chaos into your life can provide the momentum necessary to power through bouts of procrastination! Change up the routine and you won’t feel the need to sink into the mire of your mind.

Personally, I’ve decided to reignite my inner kitchen sorcerer! Sure, there’s no shortage of meal options on campus (my heart goes out to Comm Hall dinners ;-;) but every once in a while I make it a point to spice things up and try a new recipe! Lately, I’ve been working with Indian food, much to the delight of my neighbours eager for a free bite!

Source: Reddit yayyyyy

Don't let blandness bewitch your taste buds! Scour your pantry for forgotten heroes – that lonely can of chickpeas, the jar of mystery spices, the half-bag of lentils yearning for redemption. These are your allies in the fight against flavourless monotony. Share your pantry potions with friends, family, or even yourself (a feast for one can be just as magical). Turn meals into playful rituals, it’s really easy to fall into self-isolation. We’re social creatures after all, make sure to reach out and forge meaningful connections!

Source: Night Cycling 23/24

Step 5: Finally, Construct Your Reality, Take Consistent Action

All the blueprints are laid out in front of you. The vision of your complete task is already resplendent in your head. You can already imagine the congratulatory cheers of your friends as you lift your hands to your keyboard… and pause. Suddenly, it feels like all the life’s drained out of you.

Sounds familiar?

For some, it’s decision paralysis. For others, it’s executive dysfunction. And for others, it’s overthinking, procrastination… There may be a thousand reasons why your fingers refuse to type the first word of that group project, essay or tutorial homework, but the end result is the same. After all, the last step is what many find the hardest to do: taking the first action.

It's easy to get caught in the planning stage, but remember, blueprints alone won't build a house. Take consistent action, no matter how small. Start with achievable steps and gradually build momentum. Celebrate your victories, learn from setbacks, and never lose sight of your vision.

Ultimately, this article is like a well-stocked pantry: it lays out a feast of tips and tricks, but you're the chef who has to whip them into a delicious dish. Don't let indecision be the sous chef spoiling the broth! Grab your spoon of willpower, stir in a pinch of courage, and take the first bite – that glorious first word, that tiny step forward. Momentum is a fickle beast, but once you taste it, you won't want to stop. Celebrate your triumphs, learn from your spills, and keep your hunger for progress alive. Remember, the most magnificent meals are built one delectable step at a time. So, bon appétit, fellow procrastinators! Go forth and feast on the victory of getting things done.

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