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Walden University Writing Center

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How to Manage Procrastination and Brain Fog

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Have you logged onto social media today? It is almost impossible to avoid. News, events, and social gatherings can all be found on your social media platform. The next thing you know, you realize you have been on social media for hours. Now, what does social media have to do with brain fog and procrastination? First, allow me to provide a personal definition of  brain fog: It is a sense or a feeling as if you cannot recall any information or even produce information relevant to what you are currently doing; for example, writing a course paper. Due to the lack of recalling information or producing information towards the course paper, we find ourselves delaying the task of completing the course paper. Delaying the taskbetter known as procrastinatingmeans doing anything else but the course paper. According to The Huntington News, a student newspaper from Northwestern University, the main tool college students use in procrastination is social media. Sixty-four percent of college students polled in the study indicated that they lose their train of thought after scrolling through social media!

Icon Set, Social Media, World, Digital, Analog, Media
Image used with permission from Pixabay
Anxiety presents another layer to brain fog, which can lead to procrastination. The Social Anxiety Institute stated that anxiety increases as we place too many tasks on ourselves at once. This can lead to procrastination because of the excessive number of tasks to complete. Additionally, Dr. Harriet Learner in Psychology Today also stated that anxiety causes brain fog. Frequently we assume doing something unrelated to writing a course paper can help us towards getting the course paper completed. With that said, we might reflect on whether procrastination on social media is just adding to or maintaining our list of tasks to complete, perpetuating anxiety.

Short term anxiety can create short term brain fog, and long term, or chronic, anxiety can be a powerful force—but thankfully, not a permanent force. When it comes to writing a course paper, it is easy to think too far into the future (being afraid of a negative outcome of the course paper), and not be mindful of the moment, or utilize tools that help us to break down the task.

In my work towards my doctorate degree, I’ve gone down the social media dark hole as well as dealt with significant personal and professional challenges, sending my anxiety overboard and placing me in what feels like a huge brain fog. By working to overcome procrastination and brain fog has helped me move closer towards finishing. Below, I’ve included a few tips to help you with procrastination and brain fog:

1. Therapy: Therapy has been the most excellent tool in my academic success at Walden University. Therapy helps me talk through life’s obstacles that may place me into brain fog. As mentioned earlier, anxiety can lead to brain fog, but so can depression, grief, sadness, or trauma. Therapists work closely with their clients to help resolve these issues. Resolution can lead to success once the client is open to seeking opportunities that will help them thrive, both personally and academically. 

2. Breaks from social media: Technology like smartphones and computers allow us to be constantly "plugged in" to the news and current events. Being plugged into social media too much feeds procrastination and could lead to anxiety. One way to address this is to make social media applications less easy to access. You might consider removing these apps from your phone or using website blockers or timers to limit your access.

3. To-do list or planners: I am willing to give the office supply store my income based on planners alone. Not only do I love them, but planners and to-do lists keep me on track and organized. I use them to ensure I am not missing out on anything important, such as assignments, webinars, meetings, and coursework related tasks. Staying organized keeps me on track and helps me to avoid procrastination.

4. Meditation and Mindfulness: As a yoga instructor, I know that the purpose of meditation and mindfulness is to consider the thoughts that make us feel upset, sad, or anxious and to focus on the thoughts that make us feel empowered, happy, refreshed, energetic, and accomplished. It’s the practice of knowing and focusing on the “now” and not “back then” and “in the future.” Using meditation and mindfulness when dealing with brain fog, as the writer, helps to focus on what you are doing, in that very moment. Meditation and mindfulness help the student to focus on their ability to produce the very best course paper by encouraging focus on that exact task and nothing else. By focusing on being in that very moment of creating a paper, you can navigate out of your brain fog!

It is not necessary to do everything on this list, but I challenge you to try one you think could help you move through procrastination and brain fog. Don’t you worry, you got this! Happy writing!



Patrese Nesbitt is a writing intern at the Walden University Writing Center. She enjoys reading articles that are inspirational, in addition to doing research on how certain physical movement patterns help with mental health. As a doctoral candidate in Walden University’s Public Health Program, she is eager to find ways to intrinsically and extrinsically motivate people to live an improved and upgraded quality of life.


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The Art of Storytelling: Mastering Paraphrasing

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As an avid reader, I love stories about revolutionaries, abolitionists, orators, or great public speakers. I am particularly drawn to stories pulled from African American history: Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Madam C.J. Walker, and my favorite, Shirley Chisholm, the first African American female to run for President of the United States. 

You might have thought I read an entire book about the life of Ms. Chisholm, based on my mentioning she was the first African American female to run for the presidency. I actually did not read a book about Ms. Chisholm. Instead, I pulled various online resources about the life of the former Congresswoman from the Smithsonian and the U.S. House of Representatives websites, as well as scholarly articles about her life and history as an educator.  

So, is this how paraphrasing works? You pull pieces of information from different resources and articles and put them in a paper? Well, sort of. As you continue reading, you will find this post is intended to help you get comfortable with paraphrasing by providing some encouraging insight on how to tell a story. Crafting your story from your interpretation of course assignment readings and research articles may appear to be a daunting task. Still, your professor will be impressed by your efforts in understanding the content from the course, which ultimately aids in your application of the gained knowledge to your profession and your passion.  

My story is similar to Ms. Chisholm’sI am somewhat of a revolutionary, or as my mom would call me, headstrong. I have New York and Caribbean roots (Dad was Jamaican American), and I love my current full-time career as an assistant professor. Ms. Chisholm’s facts are easy to paraphrase for me because I so easily relate her life to my own story and experiences. We both possess one key element, which is that we both hold a commitment to social change. 

So, when you paraphrase, think of how you can relate the information to your own story. Here are some tips that may be helpful: 

1. Determine your interest: When reviewing your course assignments, find information that is of importance to you. The assignment is much easier to interpret when you have interest, even if it is just a small part of a chapter from a course assignment. 

2. Consider social change: I get it, there may not be any articles directly applicable to you or your background. Therefore, find content that encourages and inspires you to be a change agent. Ask yourself, what could you or what would you do differently from this article that would contribute to social change in your career field? 

3. Use those bright highlighters: Highlight and note parts of articles and chapters that stand out to you the most. Often times, those points will help you to understand the material from the article better. Highlighting also shows your professor that you know the text, which further helps you to understand the assignment with proper execution. 

4. Have no fear, my friend: Do not be fearful of words that you don’t know the definition of. Highlight those words and use the thesaurus tool in Microsoft or look up the meaning of the highlighted word. No harm in looking up the meaning of individual words to get your point across in a scholarly manner without copying something directly from the article.

5. And Again, re-read! There may be areas you may have missed or additional areas you want to highlight.
 
Plagiarism, Citations, and Quotations: In your reading, you may find out that an author’s description of a topic is clear, concise, and well written; therefore, it may be easy and effortless to just directly copy the content into your course assignment. Before you do, ask yourself, “did I give the author credit for their work?”“did I quote or paraphrase?”, and “is this something I would say in getting my point across about the content?”  

1. Professional Advice: Review your work. Ask yourself, “Is this what I want to say about this article?” “How did this article resonate with me?” “Did I cite facts?” “Did I properly give my interpretation of this article?” and the most critical question, “Did I answer my professor’s question?” 

2. Be confident: Most importantly, be confident! You are the author, so your text, your interpretation, or your story is vital for the learning experiences, not only for yourself but for everyone else who reads your writing.  

As you are crafting your own interpretation of something you read or are paraphrasing, picture it as the most exciting topic one has ever wanted to read. Spare no details and confidently present to the reader, as an author, your interpretation of what you read. Think about who you might be helping as a result of your storytelling.  


Patrese Nesbitt



Patrese Nesbitt is a writing intern at the Walden University Writing Center. She enjoys reading articles that are inspirational, in addition to doing research on how certain physical movement patterns help with mental health. As a doctoral candidate in Walden University’s Public Health Program, she is eager to find ways to intrinsically and extrinsically motivate people to live an improved and upgraded quality of life.


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WriteCast Episode 59: How to Set and Stick to a Writing Goal

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In this podcast episode, we discuss how to create an effective writing goal as well as how to keep yourself accountable in whatever goal you set!

Click the player below to listen. You can access all our episodes in our archive on our WriteCast show page.

Resources mentioned this episode:


Walden University Writing Center

The Walden University Writing Center produces WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers to support the community of scholarly writers at Walden University.

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WriteCast Episode 58: Steps for Revising, Part II: The Small Stuff

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A companion to Episode57: Steps for Revising Part I: The Big Stuff, this podcast episode focuses on line edits and smaller concerns like APA formatting and comma use.

To listen to this episode, click the player below. You can also visit our WriteCast Podcast show page to access our complete episode archive.

Recommended resources:


Walden University Writing Center

The Walden University Writing Center produces WriteCast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers to support the community of scholarly writers at Walden University.

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December 2019 Live Webinar Events

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Join us for our Live Webinar Events in December, 2019. We hope you can join these live sessions, but if not, we archive recordings of all of our sessions. Access our webinar archive here.

Title:Life Cycle of a Paper
Date:Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Time (Eastern):8:00PM - 9:00PM
Audience:All Students
Title:Beginnings and Endings: Introduce and Conclude Your Writing
Date:Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Time (Eastern):12:00PM - 1:00PM
Audience:All Students

Walden University Writing Center

The Walden University Writing Center provides a broad range of writing instruction and editing services for students, including writing assistance for undergraduates, graduate students, and doctoral capstone writers. 


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