11 ways to beat procrastination
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance your procrastination has reached a new low – seriously, reading an article on procrastination as form of procrastination is not good. But hey, we’ve all been there. Get your laziness out of your system now: after all, the sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up. If you’re serious about actually learning something sooner rather than later, though, just follow the tips below.
1. Stop ‘the fear’
Part of the reason you’re not working is probably because you’re worried about how little you know, about flunking the exams, and about your lack of preparation so far. True? …we know because it’s entirely normal. The thing is: chill yo’ beans. The fear is the fear of your work not being perfect – but whose is? Accept that you will likely never know absolutely everything – just as everyone else won’t – and make headway with what you can. Imperfection is not something to fear, and it's better to get started on something, than fail because you only want to know everything.
2. Break it down
‘Complete dissertation’ is a hell of a way to start you ‘to do’ list. It’s intimidating and it’s overwhelming. ‘Write 50 words of introduction’, on the other hand, isn’t. The scale of the task affects how likely you are to do it. Whatever the plan, break it down. Make each part small enough that it would be just plain silly to ignore them – such simple things that you just may as well finish them. You’ll fly through small achievements and, shock of shocks, you’ll end up incidentally getting through the big things too. Job done.
3. Create more deadlines
No doubt this sounds absurd. More deadlines? More pressure? …well, yes and no. The pressure of the deadline is the only thing that gets us working, so it makes sense to create a few more to keep yourself going. Moreover, when one deadline is a while away, chances are you’ll push the work off until you get dangerously close to it. Instead, create deadlines as you go along, keeping yourself on track and your workload balanced. Besides, if you keep hitting deadlines, you’ll keep getting that ‘huzzah, I actually did it’ buzz, which should spur you on.
4. Write it all down
Get everything cluttering your mind down on paper - joy down your tasks and your deadlines. Get it out of your head: if you’re spending your time trying to recall all that information, you’re not learning anything new.
Better yet, if you write down everything you think you’ve got to learn, you can plainly see where the gaps in your knowledge lie, which gives you better starting point. Hence, more efficient learning. That’s so many birds killed with one stone, the RSPCA are going to be ringing you up.
5. Do what and when works for you
Though this entire page is full of tips, it’s your job to find what fits you. There’s no use waking up early if it kills you, simply because your friend says people work better in the morning – they might, but you might not. Do what works for you, and you’ll be the most productive. If that’s 5pm – 2am every day, so be it.
6. Don’t let the internet seduce you
And by seduce, I mean distract. The internet is full of crazy ads and click-bait headlines and nonsense which really isn’t going to help you get anything done.
7. …and avoid distractions elsewhere, too
Turn off push notifications on your phone and on your emails. Unsubscribe from those Twitter emails. It’s these little things (‘Ooo, I should really just check Tinder…’) which drag you away from what you’re meant to be doing.
Some people even prefer to temporarily block Facebook and similar. If it works for you, go for it, but remember too much work and not enough play is never going to be healthy. This is work, after all, not punishment. There’s no reason to deny yourself your pleasures – it’s not as if being miserable will earn your extra marks in the exam. If anything, the reverse is true.
8. Reward yourself
Got a ton done today? Congrats. Take a break – no, really. Set yourself targets for how much needs to be achieved each day and then treat yourself if you complete it all. It incentivises you to keep going each day, but ensures you get enough time to relax, which is vital to keeping yourself fresh. And the fresher and healthier you are, the better your brain will function. So don’t forget to sleep lots, either.
9. Don’t work to a rudimentary schedule
Up at 8 and working through to 8? Well done you, right? Well, only if those hours were productive. It’s better to work fewer hours at higher speed engaging thoroughly with your work, than to slog away all day at a dismal pace taking very little in. Rest, lunch, do whatever – but it’s often easier to concentrate over short stretches.
10. Or in a rudimentary place
Ever wonder why you just absolutely have to clean your room before you can work? Maybe, just maybe, it’s because your room isn’t the best place to work. Some places work, others don’t, and there’s no rule that a desk = working space. Sometimes one can simply become bored by a place, which is as good a reason as any to start browsing the Mail’s Sidebar of Shame instead of working on that essay. Try another room – it’ll simply clear your head and freshen your focus. Give it a shot.
11. Be around others
When you’re on your own, you can finally look up why it is bricks have holes in them, or who puts the plastic bit on the ends of shoelaces, or find a stinging witticism to slay that friend who’s always boasting about how great their coursework has been. Or… well, let’s not get into the darker stuff. The point is, when you’re around other people, you feel conscious of what you’re doing, which means you’re more likely to get down to your work. It doesn’t really matter who’s around – so long as someone is. All the better if you can sit with someone on your course – by discussing out loud the topics, you can be sure you actually understand what you’re learning.