There are three important steps in erasing the possibility of procrastination. You are never going to be entirely free from it, as Netflix, video games, sitting around, eating, etc. are never not going to be a temptation. It is a cycle that repeats, but taking the time to develop some self-control is worth it.
When you are about to work and feeling tempted to procrastinate, there are two things you need to do. The first is to look at this list and identify your procrastination trigger. Next, look through this post to find the solution! After that, during future projects, look at the bottom for procrastination prevention.
common procrastination triggers:
- low energy
- difficult work
- boring work
Below are step-by-step solutions, then prevention methods:
Sometimes this is one of the easiest to resolve if you can simply remind yourself of a few things before you begin. Do these things:
- Whatever you’re doing, treat it as a rough draft. It doesn’t have to be perfect, because you can get the same quality of work by just getting it done and then editing it after.
- Once you get in motion, you can stay in motion. The “eat the frog” method often backfires for perfectionists, as they often have trouble getting started—try beginning with a simple task, then working through the rest from hardest to easiest.
- Take a power nap
- Get some caffeine
- Wash your face
- Get a snack
Anything to make you feel refreshed, energized and ready to go, even if you are tired. Remind yourself that you’ve got this, and you can take a break when you are done. Waiting only increases stress and anxiety.
- Break the task into pieces. If it is simply too much work to do in the time you have, see if you can delay some of it.
- Then make a detailed to-do list. Don’t leave anything out. If you are writing an essay, list that as the heading—- then add as sub-tasks the individual paragraphs, bibliography, etc.
- Now that you know what you have to do, you are likely to be calmer. Your path is laid out, all you need to do is prepare:
- Surroundings that are organized, clean and purposefully equipped lead to productivity. Take a moment to gather your needed items (pencil, notebooks, laptop, etc.), your chosen drink/snack, and anything else you may need. Place them on your desk or any other environment where you can work comfortably.
- Take a deep breath, and begin. You got this!
If your work is too difficult for you to do immediately, this is likely for one of the following reasons:
- There is too much work and you do not know where to begin.
- You do not understand the content.
- You do not know how to carry out the requirements of the task.
If you are hindered by the first in the list, go back to what to do if you are overwhelmed— the situation is similar.
If you do not understand the content, ask a friend or teacher/professor. If they are unavailable, consult google; Yahoo Answers, Mathway, Wikipedia, Youtube, Khan Academy, even the studyblr community, all are great resources if you lack an understanding of the material.
If you do not know how to do what you are expected to do (common with larger summative projects and papers), consult your teacher/professor. Read any material given to you that may contain instructions, suggestions, or ideas. If you still do not understand, look it up. Or ask a studyblr! My ask box is always open!
If the work is a lot of “busy work” that is repetitive and unchallenging, just remind yourself why you are doing it. And I don’t mean remind yourself “because my teacher made me do it”— I mean remind yourself why you are on this academic journey. Remind yourself why you started, give yourself some motivation. Then, suck it up, just work and you can get it done.
I am very easily distracted, so I have been through this. There are two options for people who are easily distracted:
- Remove all possible temptation or opportunities to procrastinate, or:
- Surround yourself with distraction.
The first option means a specific process— removing music, blocking websites, clearing your environment, getting rid of everything that could possibly take you away from your work for even a second.
The second option seems counter-intuitive, but I find that it works for me— it seems to force focus. Put on some music, turn on a fan, go in a crowded area (just don’t talk to anyone!), get a drink and a snack, anything. It’s kind of like an “eye of the hurricane” thing. And work hard, focus. You can do it.
- If your problem is that you cannot work for a long time without a break, try the pomodoro method. Work for 25 minutes, then take a five minute break. After four pomodoros (25 working minutes, 5 break), take a longer break for 15-30 minutes.
- If you just feel like you’re not in a “working mood,” get the ball rolling with a smaller task. Put on some video game music to focus and get into a flow.
- Remind yourself that you deserve a break— after you get your work done.
- Remind yourself why you are doing this work.
- Remember that you have done things that have been more difficult.
- You got this! I believe in you!