Deadlines suck. I get why they exist; they keep us organized and efficient so yep, they’ve got their uses. But man, can they be the biggest contributor to stress. You know those moments when you’re watching Netflix and you suddenly remember that you’ve got a five-page essay due at midnight? Yeah, I do too.
That really hot feeling of panic forces us to make a choice: do the assignment or…continue watching. Personally, I have some pretty bad anxiety so I’ve always been the type to do things (annoyingly) early so stress won’t hit me too deeply. But based on what I’ve heard from many others, procrastinating seems to be the more common choice. Question is, how do we stop it? Or at least decrease the number of times procrastination is chosen over proactivity?
This year has been a bit more chaotic than I’d have d liked, but I’ve come up with a couple of things to help scare away the procrastination bugger.
- Break it Up
Sometimes tasks feel like too much and just thinking about them will stress you out (my mood 24/7). So to cope with that, try breaking up the task or project into several small goals throughout the week, month, or however long you think is best. Although it may seem like a little bit at first, you won’t be forcing yourself to do a crazy amount of work in the little bit of time before it’s due. Plus, mistakes occur less often when you aren’t rushing to finish something. It’s easier to decide to do a small task than a bigger one, so breaking up a project into smaller tasks each day can help to motivate you to take the first step.
- Jot it Down Somewhere
The most successful people I know always seem to organize their tasks in writing. Whether it’s a list, schedule planner, or even just a sticky note, it helps keep them organized and on track. It helps to keep yourself accountable and ensure you’re at least accomplishing one task every day. You can even number which tasks should be done first and check them off as you go. Do you ever feel a tiny surge of satisfaction from checking something off a list? Or Is that just me?
Pro tip: For those who may have really tight schedules, you can even jot down your to-do list on your phone. Personally, this is what I do because my phone is the one thing I always have on me, allowing me to check off each task the moment I finish it. Try it. It might just help.
- No One’s Perfect. Remember That.
Have you ever decided not to do something because you don’t think you’re good enough? I have. As ashamed as I am of this flaw, it’s humane. We like to not do things we’re not good at and it makes sense: we’re afraid to fail. But we can’t allow our fear of failure to win. It’s okay to make mistakes, especially in the beginning, and it’s the errors anyways that lead to greater things. So scream into your pillow for a couple of seconds, crumple up dozens of plans, that’s all fine. We need to let out our confusion sometimes and it’s not whether or not it happens, it’s when it happens. We always have to keep in mind that we aren’t going to start something quickly and beautifully every time. We might need to spitball with a friend to get a grasp of a good beginning or take a break here and there. The point is, as long as you have the mindset that mistakes are inevitable, everything will be fine. It only feels gross when we think it isn’t supposed to happen.
These tips are only a few of the dozens that can help you start to lead a more proactive life. All of us do things differently (and that includes our study habits and ways of accomplishing things) so it’s all really just a game of trial-and-error. I’ve found some people work best under pressure while others don’t. Overall, just know yourself. See what works best for you and go from there. Stress can be such a pain so let’s try our best to drain that sucker out of our system.