Procrastination is something that a lot of people struggle with, whether you are a student or an employed adult, you are either procrastinating right now or have procrastinated something in your life before. It is a very common issue that most if not all of us can relate to. One thing that chronic procrastinators often say is that right now is “not the right time”. It is as if we are waiting for some perfect time to get our work done.
Before we can get into going over the best ways to overcome or avoid procrastination, it is crucial that everyone understands that there will never be a “right time” to do work. There isn’t a special perfect moment in the day where the stars have aligned and everything is in place so that it is the most ideal time to be productive. Moments like that do not exist.
What procrastinators don’t understand is that every moment in your day is more or less the same, there will never be a “right time”, that is just an excuse we came up with to put things off. The reality is, you can be productive at any moment of the day, just have to put your mind to it. Depending on what your work style is, these tips on how to avoid procrastination might really help you be more productive.
Create A Plan
One thing that chronic procrastinators do is put things off for the future. We say that we will do things “later”, but the sad truth is, we never do. The only thing that will motivate a chronic procrastinator is the moments closest to a critical deadline. There are serious issues with this approach to work. For one, you didn’t put as much time into your work as you should have and it’s all rushed and thrown together, diminishing its quality.
One thing that can really help procrastinators is creating a plan and actually sticking to it. Ignore the actual deadlines of your projects, and create new ones for yourself. When you respect the schedule you’ve created for yourself you end up getting your work done weeks ahead of time, then giving you the opportunity to fix any mistakes that you made while trying to rush through it significantly improving the quality of your work.
The greatest struggle for every procrastinator is distractions. Our world is full of 24 hour, constant distractions. Whether it’s the notifications on our phones, social media, a new show that just came out on Netflix, a book that we’ve been meaning to read, listening to that song that we forgot we wanted to listen to you for the longest time, realizing that now is the time to cook tomorrow’s lunch, or the immediate need for a shower, and so much more, these distractions keep us from focusing on the task at hand.
If you would be able to limit the distractions as much as possible (because it’s impossible to get rid of all of them as many of them occur in your brain and I’m not responsive to outside stimuli), I guarantee you’d be able to get work done.
A few things that might help are turning your phone completely off or at least disabling all notifications, working in a room or a space in your house with the least amount of immediate distractions (facing an empty wall for example), eating, and going to the bathroom before you sit down to work, filling up your glass of water beforehand, and deciding in your brain ahead of time to try its best to focus on work.
Promise Yourself A Reward
While this may sound silly, it has actually been seen to work. Promising yourself a small award for working for X amount of time will help you get motivated to start working. For example, say that if you study for 40 minutes, you allow yourself to watch one episode of that new Netflix show that you’ve been waiting to watch. And for every 40 minutes that you study, your reward is one episode of that new show.
This method has been proven to at least get people to start working, which is the toughest part for chronic procrastinators. Forcing ourselves to begin is the most challenging part because once we start working, we can work for hours at a time and complete the task at hand, but starting in time is close to impossible
This is probably my personal favorite way to help chronic procrastination. Setting alarms is incredibly helpful when it comes to beginning work. If you are still in school, let’s say you get home at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. You already know that you want to have a little break before you start studying and doing your homework, so think ahead and set time aside for that. You also know that you cannot start studying so late again because it is interfering with your rest.
A great help is to use the alarms on your phone to remind you of when to begin studying. Say you set your alarm to 5 o’clock in the afternoon, this way you gave yourself an hour to relax once you got home. The key component of this technique is that the moment you hear your alarm go off, drop everything and start doing what you need to do. This system only works if you are honest with yourself and stick to the promises that you made to yourself.
Give It A Go
The thing about procrastination is that you are only making life difficult for yourself. When you say you will start working in an hour, and then you don’t, you have only lied to yourself. The amount of stress and anxiety that chronic procrastinators go through because they began working at the last possible minute is very significant.
The issue is that the hardest part for a chronic procrastinator is to begin working well before a deadline. If there is no urgency or risk, there is no motivation. The only way things will change is if you are honest with yourself and keep the promises that you have made to yourself.
If you create a plan, stick to it, if you remove distractions, do your best to not focus on them, if you promise yourself rewards, do the work and then reward yourself, and if you use alarms, drop everything and start working the minute you hear your ringtone. These are all small jobs you can do from home and it will greatly aid you in being more productive so there is no reason not to give it a try. It’s all about taking action and sticking to it.
Good luck, and do not wait till tomorrow to try these techniques!