As I sit down to begin completing my homework, my mind floods with ideas of things that I could be doing instead.

I could: mosey down the hallway to fill my cup with water (I must stay hydrated); go to the fitness center and spend an hour working out (I have to stay in shape!); or make some food (usually Ramen noodles).

Motivation is the key to success. And lack of motivation is the key to procrastination – the story of my life as a college student. As much as I try to deny it or overcome it, there is no escaping the fact that after almost two years in college, I have mastered the art of procrastination.

One time, I was lounging on our futon, engrossed in a book about the rule of St. Benedict, when I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a red speck moving on the ceiling. I tore my attention away from St. Benedict (as hard as it was) and noticed nine other red specks crawling around on my ceiling.

I had to figure out what was going on!

Needing a closer look to identify the creatures, I tossed my book aside and jumped onto our blue suede ottoman in the center of the room, getting within inches of the creatures. Then everything became clear. Our room was being invaded by ladybugs!

How could I get rid of the ladybugs? I needed to get creative. Luckily, I had an idea, which involved trapping each bug in a half-empty bottle of Coke, and shaking it vigorously until I saw the bugs floating motionless on the surface of the fizzing liquid.

Although I didn’t finish reading until 1 a.m., at least I could fall asleep knowing there wouldn’t be any ladybugs crawling on my pillow that night.

After many late nights of cramming, I have come up with a few strategies to improve my homework habits.

First, it is important to have a place to go with no distractions. If I need to get some serious writing finished, I’ll go into the farthest corner of the library where there are small cubicles furnished with retro pea green chairs from the 1970s. When I try to look around for a distraction, all I have are the green chairs and tan walls. My imagination is boxed in.

I also try to be around people who provide positive encouragement. I don’t respond well when I’m told that I always procrastinate, so it’s no surprise I’m not finished my work.

But the most effective method for me is having something to look forward to once I’m finished. My favorite reward is a cheesy bean and rice burrito from Taco Bell.

For me, the hardest part is getting started. After starting, I realize things aren’t as bad as I thought they were. But there’s a type of bond between people who procrastinate together and share their heart-wrenching struggles to finish their homework. After all, why do today what you can put off till tomorrow?

Now it’s time for me to start working on my music theory homework, but I think I should trim my nails first (and then paint them).

Alysha Landis is a sophomore communication major from Harleysville, Pa.