How often do you delay doing something that needs to get done? Maybe it’s an essay, working on your new website, or a project for work that needs finishing. We often tell ourselves that we have ample time and reduce the level of urgency we assign to tasks. Procrastinating is a real problem that affects up to 95% of students, according to this study.
This 3-step system will help you eliminate your procrastinating and allow you to work more efficiently going forward.
Step 1 – Acceptance
Much like overcoming an addiction, the first step is to accept and recognise that you are in fact procrastinating. That article you’re reading ISN’T actually helping your work like you’ve told yourself. Do you really need to be in the “right mood” to work? Do you have to do some organising or cleaning before you begin? These kinds of excuses let us alleviate any sense of guilt we feel for not actually doing as planned. This is because, in the end, we only have to justify not doing something to ourselves – which takes a lot less convincing than anybody else!
Step 2 – Identify Sources
Procrastination is usually because deep down we don’t want to do something. If your task at hand is something boring or unenjoyable, it makes sense to do it as quickly as possible, so you don’t have to linger on it. You might also be too disorganised. Create a to-do list and set reminders. You could even try a schedule, although it will require serious discipline to stick to.
Indecision is usually another key factor in procrastination. If you aren’t sure how to approach a task you will probably put it to the back of your mind. A fear of failure can also affect our ability to complete a task.
Step 3 – Apply Techniques
Commit to the task. Turn your phone off, put your computer on do-not-disturb and just begin it. Usually once you have started, you will be mentally pushed to put your ideas into action. If you have a word-count, look at the time and set a number of words to complete each hour. You will often find you reach the goal much faster than you expect and can take a break until the next hour begins, or plough ahead and beat your schedule. You could also try completing work in 15 minute bursts – periods in which you commit absolutely to the task until the time is up.
Another great technique is to get somebody to check in on you and push you to do work. If they have a task to complete, it might help to make it a contest between who can finish or get to a certain amount of words etc. first (although don’t compromise on quality!).
If you aren’t sure where to begin, it is best to simply start the task. Once you have got into the flow of it, you can go back and change the bits you don’t like. This tip is particularly useful for writing. Think about your end-goals. Working on your website is your path to financial freedom. Writing that essay will lead to you graduating with your degree.
Remember, it is only yourself you are letting down when you fail to take action to achieve your goals.