Stressed Out?

(The Odyssey Online)

“Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out” twenty one pilots, “Stressed Out”

Do you find this twenty one pilots song to be extremely relatable every time it comes on the radio? Do you find yourself stressing over all your unstarted homework, but still find yourself in the procrasti-nation? You’re not the only one. Keep reading for some helpful tips.

High school is a stressful time full of homework, sports, projects, and extracurriculars. It’s near impossible for a person to keep up with everything. We live in a day where everything revolves around time, and when things don’t get done on time, there are consequences. That’s what makes it so frustrating when you can’t seem to get up and moving.

It’s easy to get distracted when you’re on a deadline, however the stress of not starting a task is a lot worse than actually doing the task. Getting started is the hardest part. When it comes down to it, you might just have to sit yourself down and force yourself to get started.

Everyone faces this, it’s in your brain. The brain has two parts that often fight each other when facing a difficult task, the limbic system and the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the decision making part of the brain located directly behind the forehead. It’s a newer and weaker part of the brain.

“This is the part of the brain that really separated humans from animals, who are just controlled by stimulus,” says Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Carleton University in Ottawa.

The prefrontal cortex is not an automatic system; you have to make it work yourself. This makes it hard for the prefrontal cortex to fight the limbic system, which is an automatic system. It is also one of the oldest parts of the brain. It’s what told cavemen that fire was hot and not to touch. The limbic system is automatic and seeks pleasure, which makes it easy to give in to the desire of distractions when trying to complete a difficult task. When not consciously engaged in a task, the limbic system takes over and you do what feels good, often anything but what you’re supposed to be doing.

Everyone has fallen prey to procrastination before; science pretty much says it’s a given. But with patience, you can train yourself to push through and learn a valuable skill that can last a lifetime.


Some Urbana Tigers have shared their best tips on getting things done:

A recurring theme, organization came up many times from those interviewed. Sophomore Sophie Huff agrees. “Organization is really important so that you can prioritize what needs to be done.”

“Always write all your assignments in your assignment planner,” says junior Claire Henry.

Avoiding distractions is also key. Junior Paul Nguyen sides with this as well. “When you get home, turn off your phone and give it to your parents.” He also mentions setting up a timer to help keep track of how long you’re working. “Gauge how long each assignment should take and try to do it in that time.”

Junior Janasha Stuckey agrees. “I work and I dance and I sing so I don’t have much time. I take an hour out of each day to catch up on things I need to work on.”

Many other students agreed with cutting out distractions, but some say background noise, like music, helps them focus.

“Music motivates you.” states junior Danielle Wheatley.

Junior Charlyne Evans warns, “Stay away from YouTube. Use your iPod or playlists you already have.”

Many Urbana Tigers also agree with better focus helping to get things done.

“I sleep more. The more I sleep, the less distracted I am.” says Freshman Aaron Shpungin Lyubanksky.

Great advice Tigers!


Many websites and experts also recommend information like this for getting things done. Here’s some advice from the experts:

  • Make a prioritized schedule
    • Decide what tasks are most important and try to get those done first.
  • Stay organized
    • Know everything that needs to be done, the materials needed, and where everything is. Try to keep it in a clean manner. Many people find that having a clean workspace leads to better focus.
  • Cut out distractions
    • It’s hard to get work done when much more tempting things are surrounding you. Hide away all your electronics, turn off your phone, stay away from your computer. If you really have to, turn off your router. Just get to it.
  • Set up a routine/specific time for tasks
    • Many people find that having a set routine helps them get to work. If you get used to having an hour of homework time every night, it makes it easier to get started.
  • Set a timer
    • Force yourself to do your task for a set amount of time. Getting started is usually the hardest part. Once you get into it, it becomes a lot easier to continue. There are a few different methods to timing yourself. You can just set the timer for a desired time. Some recommend a 30 minute time period for work with 5 minute breaks in between work periods  and 15 minute breaks every third break.
  • Use delayed gratification
    • Give yourself a time period and a reward such as, “If I do homework for 30 minutes, I get to take a short break and eat some candy.” Your body doesn’t like doing hard things without getting something in return, so give it what it wants. However, don’t get too caught up in the reward or you might just quit your task all together. Keep it simple.
  • Don’t burn yourself out
    • Once you find yourself getting frustrated or zoning out a lot, take a break. Don’t get too settled in though, you might just get sucked into procrastinating. Eat something or drink water. Do some exercises to wake yourself up.

So when you’re stuck doing a 10-page essay or cleaning your room, science concludes the easiest thing you can do is get started and try to stay focused enough to see it through. Try and see what tips work for you and maybe you’ll get a few free hours to turn back time to the good old days.

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