Daisy has a major assignment due the next Friday; it counts for 40% of her final grade on a core course. She tried to start it on Saturday to give her enough time to complete it, but she just could not focus. Anyway, she could start tomorrow and still complete it on time. Before Daisy knew it, it was Wednesday, and she had not started her assignment. Now she’s panicking and stressed out.
When we procrastinate, we postpone tasks we can easily start or complete in the present to the future. Procrastination is not the same as being lazy. While laziness involves an unwillingness to act, procrastination is an active process where you make the choice to ignore one task in favour of another more pleasurable activity. Research has shown that 95% of people procrastinate to some extent. Although, it’s a common issue, procrastination can affect your ability to meet goals, get good grades, and access work opportunities. Just like Daisy, you eventually feel stressed and panicked as your deadline approaches.
Ready to beat procrastination? Try these tips:
Identify your reasons for procrastinating
The first step to beating procrastination is finding out why you procrastinate. Is it poor time management or organization skills? Does the task feel overwhelming or too difficult? Do you think the task is boring? Are you a perfectionist who is avoiding the task to avoid a mediocre result? Are you scared that you would fail at it? Think about the places where you procrastinate: at home, in school, with friends, or alone? These are all logical reasons why people procrastinate, and once you identify the reason for your procrastination, then you can start working on it.
Find ways to counter them
If you have poor time management and organizational skills, don’t rely on your own ability to schedule tasks. Use to-do lists and organization software, such as Notion, to help you plan and organize your day. As soon as a task is received, schedule it, and set alarms for it.
Fight overwhelming tasks by breaking the task into segments, then completing one segment at a time.
When doing boring tasks, try to make it fun by listening to music or assigning yourself a reward when you complete the task. If you are a perfectionist, you are your harshest critic. Try to start on the task and have a trusted person check it out for you. You will be surprised at how well you are doing. If you find that you procrastinate at home, try to work outside your house. If you procrastinate when working alone, get started on tasks when others are working so you stay motivated.
Set SMART goals
When faced with a task, you might give yourself a vague deadline to complete it. But this is usually insufficient to keep you motivated. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. For instance, you could say, “To complete three pages of my assignment each day, I am going to dedicate two hours daily before Thursday.” This goal is more specific (complete three pages of my assignment each day), time-bound (before Thursday), achievable (two hours daily), measurable (three pages daily), and realistic.
Use tried and tested anti-procrastination techniques
People have been trying to overcome procrastination for a long time, and they have created different strategies and techniques to help them do so. Try different techniques to determine which one works for you and stick to it. Some techniques include:
- Chunking: instead of approaching the overwhelming task as a mountain to climb, break it down into parts and focus on completing each small part.
- Remove distractions: no social media, television, music, pets, etc.
- Start with the hardest task: everything else looks simple, once you have completed this.
- Add visual, physical reminders to your workspace, such as written reminders.
Procrastination can seem like an easy, temporary way to avoid difficult tasks, but in the long run, it can only lead to problems. Beat procrastination by finding out why you procrastinate and taking steps to counter the reasons. It’s not a one-step journey, but we are confident that you can do it!