For as long as I can remember, I have been a horrid procrastinator. It seems that every time I sit down to write an essay or do my homework, I become physically incapable and struggle to even form a coherent thought. I like to believe that it’s genetic since my mother and brother are almost as bad, if not worse than I am! Now, don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I haven’t tried to overcome this aspect of myself. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t enjoy the added stress of suddenly having 20 assignments all due within the same 2-hour block. I know full and well that had I worked earlier, I could be happily curled up under my blankets instead of furiously typing away at a laptop at 2 a.m. before my 8 AM finance lecture.
The issue, I have found, is that I have tried the methods that have been recommended to me: journals, planners, and proper time management skills. You name it, I have probably attempted it multiple times in various formats throughout my life. Unfortunately, none of the typical methods have ever really been able to make a huge impact on my habits. You may be asking “how do I manage to get work done despite my chronic procrastination?” Quite simply, I took time and found a system that worked for me. Without further ado, I present to you four simple ways I work to overcome my procrastination.
[bf_image id="q5d0i8-f90rmw-1516pq"] Stop writing down everything on your to-do list
This is a topic that I have often brought up with several of my, admittedly, much more organized friends. Each time I have been stared at as if I had lost my mind. Even now, I imagine you too are wondering why anybody would ever suggest not writing down everything they have on the agenda, while they are simultaneously actively avoiding said agenda. While it may seem counter-intuitive at first glance, I have found that writing everything down in one place can actually be more stressful and overwhelming than not writing anything in the first place.
Rather than making one long list of things you have to do, attempt to make smaller, more manageable outlines of your tasks. I like to keep a section for each class I attend, listing out only what needs to be done within the next 2-3 days and keeping the rest of the assignments on a separate document. This way, I can focus on what is important to work on while not getting overwhelmed by future assignments.
Most of the time when I find myself procrastinating, I attempt to force through the mental block that has come over me by sheer willpower. However, I realized that when I did that, I became more frustrated than I was before. Whenever this happens, I have found that one of the best things I can do is to step away and do something that has no relation to the task that I am trying to work on.
Let’s say you’re trying to write an English essay and can’t seem to complete the introduction paragraph. Rather than staring at the screen and failing to accomplish anything, try taking a moment to go see if there are any quick chores you can do around the house, such as doing the dishes or picking up your room. This will allow your brain time to think about a different task and process what you were meant to be working on. Once you come back to the assignment, it won’t appear as daunting.
[bf_image id="v7r8s6vzfppnvhtsn2zqn"] Allow yourself to perfect your environment
Have you ever felt as though you couldn’t finish an assignment because your desk was too disorganized, or the sounds of the cars passing by on the interstate were too loud for you to focus? Admittedly, this is one of my biggest issues when trying to complete an assignment. Understanding that in most cases, these distractions aren’t major enough to bother the average person, for a procrastinator, it can be the very thing that is holding you back from actually completing your assignment.
If you find yourself in this situation, indulge yourself! Mess with the lights in your room until you find the perfect ambiance lighting. Go through 30 playlists to find ample study music. Light your favorite candle, and take a moment to breathe until everything seems perfect. It may not seem like a big deal to other people, but not being in a comfortable environment can hinder your work to the point where it feels impossible to make progress. Giving yourself a space where you feel the most comfortable can help boost your mood and overall sense of wellbeing. Thus, improving your chances to get everything done.
[bf_image id="9fc5q8jb5b48grbjs9khv28"] Embrace It!
I feel at this point it's important to note that procrastination is not always a bad thing. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to help progress your work is to embrace the fact that you won’t be completing it until later. After all, procrastination forces people to focus once the deadline approaches, making the task appear easier and even keeping the individual from overthinking what they are submitting.
It is important to remember that procrastination should not be the answer to completing one’s assignments, and the key is to find a balance in one’s workload. I encourage everybody to take the time they need to develop a system that works for them, keeping in mind to be patient with themselves and understanding that a method that works for one person, may not work for another. It’s only once you find the perfect system that you will truly be able to start reaching your full working potential.