Procrastination is a common element of many people’s days. I think even outside of work or study, we like to ‘put off’ the difficult or annoying things until tomorrow. Although Nike tries its damnedest to motivate us to “just do it”, it is often just not that easy. Although, we may never rid of procrastination completely, it is important to minimise the time you spend procrastinating, and as I have had a lot of experience at university, I think I have started to perfect procrastinating. So these are my tips:
Write Lists- To-Do lists are great! You can do a daily to-do list or a weekly to-do list (or whatever else works for you). Ticking off items on your to-do list can make you feel productive and should motivate you to continue working through your list. Sneaky tip- I add things to my to-do list that are extremely easy like “email supervisor about meeting” just so I can cross something off! A long to-do list can be overwhelming and actually make your procrastination worse, so if you have a lot on your plate, it may be beneficial to split the to-do list up into ‘do now’, ‘do soon’, ‘do later’ (or something of the sorts). Put the most important/pressing items in the ‘do now’ list and make those your focus.
Do the worst first- I find it beneficial to do the most annoying tasks on my to-do list first. It makes the rest of the day easier when I start with the hard tasks. For me, procrastination does not generally set in until around lunch time, and if I only have “easier” tasks left by the afternoon, it is much easier to overcome this procrastination.
Remove distractions- Close your emails, hide your phone, shut down Facebook, and take yourself away from Instagram (#goingtowritenow). Give yourself a set amount of time (20-30 minutes) to have a solid writing session with no distractions. When the time is up, reward yourself by checking those online shopping emails (#treatyoself). You will be more efficient writing in this short time, than if you spend a couple of hours full of distractions.
Be nice to yourself- It is also important that you give yourself lots of little breaks throughout the day. If you are in the middle of reading an article and the words are starting to blur together and you have read the last sentence five times and still do not comprehend what it says, give yourself a break. Do not get frustrated at yourself for not concentrating- that will not make you productive.
Learn to understand your productivity- Learn to understand your moods and attention span. If you know that you are in a productive mood, capitalise on that- write the way that Forrest Gump runs- don’t stop! If you are in a completely unproductive mood then give yourself a break. . Just like with anything, sometimes you need to have some time off.
Don’t do nothing – You will never completely stop procrastinating but you can be smart about how you procrastinate. What I mean is you can still be efficient whilst you are procrastinating (yes I am serious!). If you are putting off a difficult or tedious task, procrastinate by ticking off the easy but still necessary tasks on your list. I often spend my ‘procrastination’ time finding my references or ensuring all my full stops are in the exact right place.
Be organised- My last tip, which I believe to be particularly important, is to be organised and start your tasks with plenty of time to complete them. Procrastination will happen and as long as you allow yourself time (to use my other tips), your work will happen too.