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How to Stop Procrastinating Now! Or Maybe Later…

Procrastination affects everyone at sometime or other, much like having a drink spilled on you in Klute: it is inevitable.

So whether a serial procrastinator or not, as summative and formative season is in full swing, I have compiled a short list of the best advice I’ve received through years of trying (and at points failing) to beat procrastination:

 

1)   Make lists.

Making lists: the age-old solution, which no doubt many of us try. But the key is to ensure your lists are do-able and realistic. Instead of simply making a very short list, which contains items of extreme length, (e.g. American Fiction Summative), create lists that contain the small tasks that make up the larger one. It may be useful to have a list of the bigger tasks as a reminder of your overall goals, but the list of smaller tasks is going to make you most productive. If faced with large time-consuming tasks we can be tempted not to begin because the work seems to vast, but completing smaller tasks means you feel, and are, a lot more productive.

 

2)   Have breaks.

Another very obvious and overstated piece of advice, but one which is perhaps not recognised for its usefulness. We all know when we reach the point of unproductivity. Instead of forcing yourself to continue sitting and staring mindlessly at the word count of your latest summative, get out somewhere, go for a walk. Go and give Tesco a visit or have a conversation. Just do something different, even if only for 5 or 10 minutes – long enough so that once you return to your desk you feel ready to attempt more. But if you don’t, try doing something productive which isn’t academic, like tidying up after your housemates, washing up after your housemates, cleaning up after your housemates – you’ll feel better and it might take your mind off work just long enough for you to be able to return.

3)   Get away from distractions.

Put your phone in a drawer, or give it to your housemate whilst you work. Get website blockers to stop those 5 minute Facebook checks. Getting rid of distractions or at least making them harder to get to will help you maintain focus and concentration. It’s simply a case of knowing your own weaknesses. If you’ve got a large summative due and you know you are liable to a Netflix binge, get your friend to change your password until you’ve got enough done. These may sound a bit extreme but it really can help to maintain focus until the task is done.

(This is obviously not to meant to be in contradiction to my earlier point of ‘taking breaks.’ The difference between distractions and breaks is that one inhibits your ‘productive time’, and the other one helps you to continue to be productive. And it’s important for you to know what distracts you and what you can use for a ‘break’.)

4)   Change your working environment.

Sometimes, I’ve found, a change in where I’m working can help give me a boost to do more work. If you’ve been working at your desk all morning, maybe try a different room or place, perhaps invest back into the community and take yourself off to one of the many cafes in Durham.

However, it’s also important to remember that some days are going to be more productive than others and making yourself feel guilty for not getting enough work done, or not doing exactly what you wanted with your day, are not constructive. There is always tomorrow, and there is always more time.

Again, this is not a complete list, but from experience these are the tips which have helped me the most in combatting the procrastination monster. And if all that didn’t help, maybe a few words from some of the greats will…

 

“Procrastination is the thief of time, collar him.” Charles Dickens

 

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.”  Abraham Lincoln

 

“In delay there lies no plenty.”

 William Shakespeare

 

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”Martin Luther King, Jr.

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