Have you been putting that essay off for just a few too many days now? Stephanie Parrott shares her top tips on how to avoid procrastination and tells us how you can prevent it in 6 simple steps…
It’s getting to that time in the term when despite a constant attempt to keep nights-out fun and regular, the work load and essays are just eating up your time. You have a deadline due, so you open your laptop to begin work. Word is open in the background but instead of actually working, you check Facebook, Twitter, a few email accounts, read an online blog, download music, internet shop, ANYTHING to stop you from doing what you’re meant to be doing. We’re all familiar with procrastination – a lot of us are practically professional at it – but the one thing that everyone struggles with is avoiding it… and that’s where these next steps come in.
- Break down your work
The main reason for procrastination is that subconsciously, we find the work load too overwhelming and basically, too much. The best thing to do is break down your workload into smaller, more achievable targets (maybe even setting yourself deadlines for each smaller task). That way your subconscious mind will be less stressed when seeing that the job in hand is a few small tasks, instead of one big one. If you’re still procrastinating and avoiding the smaller task, then break it down even further… soon it’ll be so small and insignificant that you won’t even think twice about getting it done.
- Get rid of procrastination tempters
If you find yourself constantly procrastinating, it’s probably because you’re surrounded by distractions… in other
words, you are setting yourself up for a fall. ELIMINATE these procrastination tempters. If you are writing an essay, disable your wifi so that social media is inaccessible or turn off ‘cookies’ so that you can’t Internet shop. Research found that on average people check their phones around 150 times per day for messages, calls and even just to get the time! Think how many minutes of procrastination that is… get a clock and switch off your phone so that you can get your work done quicker. Some people even deactivate facebook accounts during exam period, it’s all about
distractions and how far you’re willing to go to avoid them. Just don’t kid yourself that you can handle the temptation because if you could, you wouldn’t be reading this.
- Get a work buddy
The people we are with influence our behavior, so find someone who holds the work ethic you aspire to have, someone who will motivate you, and soon you will inculcate their drive yourself. Although 68% of students said that big study groups are ineffective, 72% said that working in a small group or with one other person has really helped them in the past! Bouncing ideas of others and learning their work techniques and ways of looking at problems is hugely effective to your motivation to work. While it’s not necessary for you and your work buddy to have the same target or work deadline, it does help having someone who knows your goals and can be there to help you reach them.
- Change environment
Look at your workspace and think about what it is doing for you. If you’re in bed on your laptop, do you really want to be writing that analysis, or snuggling up to sleep? Find a workplace that inspires you to actually work, be it a desk in a silent room, or a table in a crowded library full of people doing the same thing as you – but remember, work environments do lose their ‘motivation-to-be-studious’ effect eventually, so the minute you feel yourself slipping into procrastination, change workspace. Market research in companies showed that for them to survive, their work environment has to be constantly changing. A fresh space brings new ideas and a positive atmosphere and if it works for a whole company, then it can definitely work for you.
- Create a list
Having a list is something that works for a huge majority of the population, so it is definitely worth giving it a go. If you start the morning by making a list of everything that needs to be accomplished, it is there as a visual reminder all day. The feeling of checking something off a list is so satisfying, you’ll move straight onto the next task immediately. The jobs that are yet to be done will sit staring at you, literally haunting you, until you finally get off facebook and get them done.
- Just do it
At the end of the day, it is all down to you. If you’re not motivated at all to get the job done, then you never will, procrastination will be second nature. However it works both ways, you can do all the planning, list making and strategizing in the world, but if you don’t step up and take action, then again, nothing will ever get done. You never hear of someone who procrastinated their way to the top, and that’s not going to change for you, so the best advice that can be given is to simply just do it.
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