Procrastinate verb delay or postpone action; put off doing something
We all procrastinate in one way or another to varying degrees. This tough-to-break habit affects our health, schedule and plans, decision making, and potentially career if it gets out of hand. While it’s difficult to completely eliminate procrastination, there are many ways to reduce its affects and overcome the desire to fall into its’ cycle. These are a few tips that I have found useful throughout high school and college.
1. Make a list, and stick to it.
Without a list of what needs to get done in a day, week, or even hour, it is easy to put things off so that they will get done at a later and later time. Begin with a list of things that you would like to accomplish, beginning with the highest priority. I find that it is best to make long lists of small goals to achieve because it is less overwhelming to give myself many small assignments that add up into larger wholes. What are you less likely to balk at, writing your 15-page history paper, or writing the introduction of that paper?
2. Keep a calendar.
Deadlines like to creep up slowly so that you are lulled into believing that you have plenty of time to finish x, y, and z. Then suddenly it’s the night before, and you haven’t even read the book that paper is about! In college, between classes, work, clubs, and any other extracurricular activities it is easy to have days blend into weeks and months with the whirlwind of activity that always seems to take hold as the semester advances.
Marking a calendar keeps schedules, events, deadlines and other important notes in focus. Having a clear outline of when specific things are will help you form plans around those dates, reducing the stress and worry of suddenly realizing that something is due today. Calendars are also readily accessible and easy to use, whether you use a traditional printed calendar, planner, dry-erase board, or your Smartphone. Customize it with color coding, sticky notes, and anything else to make sure no note goes unforgotten!
3. Create attainable work goals.
Nothing could be worse than setting up for failure by giving yourself a mountain of things to do that you can’t physically complete in the timeframe. Know your limits, and stay within the lines. It’s always better to set yourself fewer things to do but end up completing them all than it is to give yourself a million things to do and complete none of them.
4. Give yourself breaks.
No matter how busy you are, factor in time for breaks. These are your rewards, and help to increase motivation. If you’re studying or working at your computer, I find that it is best to step away from those things during a break period. Take yourself out of that environment, go for a quick walk, get refreshed, and come back ready to conquer.