If you often find yourself leaving even the smallest of tasks to the very last minute, then you’re what is known as a ‘procrastinator’. Every time you find yourself running out of time and feeling stressed, you promise yourself you’ll never do it again – but it’s never quite as simple as that.
The good news is that you’re not the only one. We’re all guilty of procrastination every now and again, whether it’s cleaning our entire room to avoid writing an assignment or scrolling through endless social media posts instead of doing our class reading. It’s definitely not uncommon, but imagine how much you’d achieve if you kicked the habit once and for all!
So how can you overcome procrastination? Here are five simple ways to stop putting things off, so you can start getting things done instead!
Break it down
Breaking your work down into manageable tasks can help it seem less daunting. Thinking about tackling an entire essay or revising a whole module can feel overwhelming – but if you break it down into smaller, more manageable tasks, it’s much easier to get started on the first one and move forward from there. Give yourself deadlines and make a list – because we all know there’s nothing more satisfying than ticking off a task once it’s finished! It’s often the idea of getting started that makes you procrastinate, rather than the task itself, so this is a really good strategy to practise.
First the worst
Start with the hardest task and save the fun ones for last! Prioritise the jobs you’re putting off the most! You’re likely to have the most motivation at the beginning of your study session, so channel that energy into getting the less appealing tasks out of the way first. You’ll feel great once they’re done, and then you can move on to the easier (or more fun?) tasks for the rest of the day. Of course, this only applies if you’re at your most productive at the beginning of the day. Take some time to what times suit you best, and devise a plan to use it wisely!
Done, not perfect
Try and complete your first draft and then go back and edit. The idea of completing a task to total perfection is likely to hold you back from starting at all – but that’s why drafts exist! Focus on finishing SOMETHING, even if it’s not a perfect product quite yet. It’s much easier to perfect something that’s already there, as you can’t fix it if it doesn’t exist yet!
Distractions be gone
Is the temptation of your phone too much to handle? Do you find yourself reaching for the TV remote and the latest Netflix series instead of working? Distractions are the fuel to procrastination’s fire, so it’s time to get rid of them! Download an app that restricts your phone access while you study, and study in a library or classroom if being at home is too much for you. If you really need social interaction to keep you going, perhaps you’d be better off working in a group? Find a buddy or two and study together. You never know, they might be struggling with procrastination too!
Give yourself a goal, and reward yourself when you reach it! Instead of focusing on the negatives of procrastinating, give yourself a positive reason not to. Tell yourself that once you’ve finished the task (or a particular chunk of it, anyway) you can have a treat! How you treat yourself depends on what motivates you. A good snack? A scroll through Instagram? An episode of your favourite programme? A walk to stretch your legs? It’s up to you – just make sure to be VERY strict with yourself (you’re not allowed until you’ve finished, remember?) and to be wary of treats that can distract you from returning to work… save the binge-worthy Netflix shows until you’ve finished for the day!