How to Beat Procrastination

I think we’ve all fallen to the lowly experience of procrastination. We put things off until the very last possible second and end up scrambling to get everything together when in reality, this could have all been avoided in the first place. It’s okay, we’re all guilty of it, but we don’t have to be! I’ve come up with a few tricks to help combat the unproductivity we are all faced with from time to time, and I’m sure these tips will help you too.

1. Break things down into tiny tasks

One common reason why we procrastinate is the fact that the task we are avoiding is large and intimidating. It can become overwhelming, resulting in us putting it off altogether in order to avoid the stress it can cause. What I like to do is figure out what the tiniest possible thing I can do for it is to get started. Even if that means just opening up a Word doc and typing the heading, at least I’ve taken the initiative to do something with it. Breaking down the assignment into small fragments will make it easier to tackle and not as daunting. This can relieve a lot of the stress that comes with doing it all at once.

2. As soon as you get it, start

Do this with every assignment. A lot of the time we avoid doing this and say to ourselves, "Oh I’ll start that tomorrow” or “I have plenty of time, I’ll do it another day,” and then boom, we are already procrastinating. Getting started right away, even if it’s only a small portion of it, will help get you into the mindset of setting it as a priority and getting it done quicker. You’ll avoid a lot of trouble and hassle by starting right away.

3. Space it out

It is so important to set realistic deadlines for yourself. Many times, when we’re making a to-do list, we fill it up with so many things that it overwhelms us, and we end up being disappointed in ourselves for not completing it all. This is why it’s important to set goals that you know you’ll be able to achieve without worry when it comes to actually complete these tasks. Give yourself time to do good quality work so that way you’re curating something you’re proud of and feel confident in turning in. Rather than waiting until the last minute to throw something together, it's important to allow yourself time to really give it your best effort. This will not only help relieve you of the anxiety, but you’ll also notice an improvement in your productivity overall.

4. Set a timer

If you’re really dreading an assignment that you know is due soon, one of the best tricks I’ve learned is to just set a timer for one hour and do it. Just give yourself the one hour to really get into it and allow yourself to get into a good work mode. If by the end of the hour you’re still not feeling it, then move on to something else. If you spent an hour getting good work done, then at least you did something. A lot of the time though, you’ll find that after that hour your mind is deep in focus on the task, and you’ll want to continue so that way you can stay in the zone and get it done.

Courtesy: Unsplash

5. Write it down

Staying organized and setting up a schedule for yourself is so important. This relates back to my tip of spacing it out. When you write things down and create a realistic schedule that you can stick to, completing assignments won’t be a big deal, and it will relieve a lot of the pressure.

6. Get up and get dressed

Although it is tempting to stay in pajamas and work from bed, this leads to more procrastination and feeling sluggish. In order to feel more energized and actually get your blood flowing, get dressed and ready for the day. If you look the part of a put together student or employee, you’ll start to feel more like it too. This will enable you to get your day started and get on track with what needs to get done.

7. Take short breaks

Staying focused for extended periods of time can get really tiring. When you feel yourself start to get antsy, that’s your cue to get up and stretch. Taking 10-minute breaks will give your mind time to relax so that way you won’t feel so overwhelmed and want to quit. Something I really recommend is to stay away from social media during these breaks! I know it can be tempting to have a quick scroll through Instagram, but in reality, your brain is still taking in information, so it’s not an actual break. Plus, you’ll probably get more distracted and end up spending good quality study time on your phone, which is still procrastinating. Instagram will still be there when you’ve finished studying, so take this time to focus on your work.

8. Keep the phone away in general

I find it extremely helpful to have my phone put away while studying. Put it out of sight and away from your study area. You’ll be less tempted to go through your social media and will have a clearer mind going into your work. Something I’ve been doing when I know I have a major paper or test coming up, three days beforehand I remove my social media apps from my phone. I’m not saying you have to delete your accounts (because who would really do that?), but social media often serves as our main distractions and contributors to our procrastination, so not having these on your phone during prime study time is a great way to keep you distraction-free and focused.

9. Have a clean space

This is so simple yet so effective. It’s true what they say: a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind. Working in a clean and efficient workspace will put your mind at ease and allow you to work calmly and effectively so that you’re producing your best quality work.

10. Exercise

Feeling anxious about the assignment? Exercise or dance it out! I know that there are times where we are just so anxious going into an assignment because of the magnitude in weight that it holds. In those cases where you are just itching to run away from it all, go sweat it out! Releasing all of that excess energy will leave you feeling more relaxed and calmer going into it. Having those good endorphins flowing will help motivate you to get started.

Procrastination has the potential to get the better of us, but we shouldn’t give it the power to do so! When we recognize when we’re falling into a bad spell of stress, it’s important to have solutions to get yourself back to being motivated and confident in your work. These tips will hopefully provide you with the tools you need to get back on track to success.