“The essay I was assigned 2 weeks ago is due in 5 days, I should really start doing some research on the topic… but I haven’t checked Instagram today. Maybe I should do that and then start in 15mins… Wait a second, I haven’t watched that new vlog on Youtube… I also have to read some blog posts so maybe I’ll do that first and then start my essay… On second thought, I’ll just do the essay on the weekend, I’ll have plenty of time then.”
Does that thought process sound familiar? Surely, we’re all at least somewhat acquainted with the phenomenon that is procrastination. Even the word sounds like you’re tying to avoid something, you know? It’s when you have work to do but instead, you’re doing irrelevant things like surfing the internet, checking social media, cleaning (believe it or not), watching movies on Netflix, etc. and then panicking when you realize it’s too late and you have no more time left to do the work you should have just done earlier.
Think about the last time you procrastinated. Yesterday? Today? Maybe you’re doing it right now by reading this post but doesn’t it seem like it’s a never ending loop? I know for some people, myself included, it is. If you know me personally or you’ve been following my blog for a while or you even just read this post from 2 months ago, you’ll know how much of an issue procrastination has been for me and how it’s affected me negatively in terms of school and my everyday life. I would end up either not doing the work or I’d do it last minute and do it poorly.
On the morning of Dec. 31st last year, I woke up feeling a bit miserable because I kept wondering what exactly it is that I’m doing with my life and I couldn’t help but think about how much time I wasted during the year and how I could have been more productive. If you’ve ever felt this way, you know that feeling of total disappointment really sucks but I’m glad I had that ‘lightbulb moment’ because it made me realize that I need to stop procrastinating and get things done. I made it my new year resolution and because I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job so far, I decided to share with you, how I personally combat the urge to procrastinate.
Plan and prioritize:
I can’t stress enough how important this step is. I’m a big planner generally and it’s helped me so much in terms of knowing exactly what needs to get done. I suggest waking up about 10-15 mins earlier than usual to create a ‘to do list’. Jot down all the things you’d like to accomplish during the day, both big and small and then if possible, break your work into little parts and focus on one part at a time. For example, if you have an essay to write, you can break the workload down into different steps like deciding the topic, research, creating the outline, etc. Doing this makes it way less overwhelming!
That method didn’t always work for me simply because creating a to-do list is great but sometimes I found that scheduling my time works better. This is all based on personal preference. I like creating a detailed timeline with specific deadlines and writing down what I’ll do every hour or at least allotting a task to a time slot because that makes me more accountable and I’ll be more motivated to stick to the schedule when I know I have to finish each task by a certain time.
Block out distractions:
This one is pretty self explanatory. If you’re procrastinating a lot, it might be because you make it easy to do so. For example, I know a lot of people that study while watching shows on Netflix because they claim it helps them focus better. Honestly, if that’s true, go ahead and do it but I know that I can’t study while doing that so instead, I go to a noise free place and eliminate anything that might be a source of distraction. That includes putting all technology away!! If you’re always checking social media or playing games or whatever it is you procrastinate with, try putting your phone away or the source of the problem so you can focus. When you’re done, you can do all those things! If you need the internet for one of your tasks, I’ve heard there are sites and softwares to help you block out distracting websites or block out the internet altogether.
Note: If you’ll still be tempted to, for example, check your phone, you can turn it off and give it to a friend/family member or put it in another room so the temptation to constantly check it is reduced.
Take breaks and set rewards:
“All work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy”. That’s a proverb I used to hear all the time when I was younger. It made no sense at the time probably because I just didn’t really care but now it makes so much sense. It means that ‘without time off work, a person both becomes bored and boring’. It’s totally true but at the same time, all play and no work will obviously make Jack even duller (lmao I just made that up but it’s also true). This doesn’t mean take a break every 5 minutes but if you’ve been working on something for at least 30mins, you can take a 10 minute break.
Rewarding yourself and taking breaks are extremely important; it gives you something to look forward to. For example, if your phone is something you have to turn off because it’s a source of distraction, knowing that you’ll get a couple minutes of free time with it after completing the task obviously enables you to stay on track and get it done much quicker.
Make it public:
I know this sounds intimidating but telling someone like a parent, sibling, friend, etc. about your to do list can make you more accountable. Needless to say, it makes you work even harder when you know someone is bound to ask about your progress. For example, sometimes I announce my goals to you guys or I tell my family or friends, not because it’s any of their business (lol) but because, it’s a great way to keep myself accountable. It’s hard not to try to accomplish your goals when you have your mother or friend nagging you about it, trust me!
Just do it:
At the end of the day, it comes down to just getting a grip and doing it. You can plan, strategize and prioritize all you want but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to get done. Putting work off makes you miserable because while you’re doing something else, the amount of work you still have to do is just at the back of your mind so here’s a bit of a reality check: you can’t procrastinate your way to success. Never heard of it. Stop doing irrelevant things and just get to work!
I feel like setting personal goals goes a long way in avoiding procrastination so at the end of the day, look at your to do list and see all you’ve (hopefully) done! It’ll motivate you to keep going the next day.
For me, planning my day and actually sitting down to make a list were the hardest parts and I decided to share the planners I made at the beginning of the semester with you guys because they’re what worked best for me. I made 3 different kinds just so you have more choices because what works for one person may or may not work for another.
GET THE FREE PRINTABLES HERE:
I really hope you try using them. If you need more help or want to tell me if this worked or didn’t work, email me and I’d love to hear from you!
Which tips work best for you? Do you have your own ways to avoid procrastination? Let me know down below!