Time Management Tips for Serial Procrastinators

I am probably the least qualified person ever to write an article about time management. In fact, I'm writing this article to avoid writing a 10-page paper for my film class. See? Not qualified. I might just be the best procrastinator ever. Whatever. I may not be good with time management, but I do know what I could do to help myself out in that area. I just need to start taking my own advice. Want to hear it?

Be consistent in the mornings and before bed. 

What I mean by this is find a routine and stick with it. It really doesn't matter what that routine is, just as long as you have one. Get up at the same time every morning, regardless of what you have going on that day. I don't do this all the time (I already told you I should take my own advice, didn't I?) but the weeks I did manage to keep a routine, I noticed myself being more productive overall. For example, my earliest class was at 9:30 in the morning, so I'd set my alarm for 7:30 every single day. Even on the days I didn't have that class. Why? So my body would be used to being up and productive that early in the morning. Doing that made my mornings productive AF. 

Nighttime routines are just as important as morning ones. I'm way better about keeping that routine up than I am the morning one––for me that means reading in bed for an hour before going to sleep. I don't think sticking to a strict "bedtime" is the way to go, especially as a college student, but you can still have your routine. Take your shower, do your facemask, do some yoga if that's your thing... just do it consistently. 

Give yourself deadlines... and tell someone about them. 

I actually do this most of the time, and I've found it helps a lot. Not only does it mean you're holding yourself accountable, but it also means somebody else knows what you're supposed to be getting done. Not accomplishing something when you're the only one who knows about it is a lot easier than not accomplishing something when you've already blabbed. No matter how insignificant it may seem. Trust me. I can give you a real-time example of this one, too. I was on the phone with my mom this morning and I told her about the paper I'm working on. (Yes, it's the same one I should be writing right now, but... shut up.) I told her I wanted to be at least halfway done with it by the end of the day, and now I'm more likely to do that... because I know she'll ask about it. This whole thing ties into the next bit of advice I wish I'd take...

Stressing yourself out doesn't have to be a bad thing 100% of the time...

This one may seem weird, but hear me out. I'm someone who works extremely well under stress. Those multiplication tables that we had one minute to work through in middle school? Loved that. Giving yourself a little bit of a push is sometimes necessary, and doing that usually means you're going to be stressed for the duration of whatever thing you're trying to accomplish. Again, back to the paper I should be writing, I'm stressed about hitting that 5-page mark today. But that stress? I know myself. It'll drive me to actually get there... maybe even further. 

Reward yourself!

I feel like I don't need to explain this one. It means exactly what you think it means. I'm going to let myself finish reading Michelle Obama's book, "Becoming," as soon as I crank out this paper. It's amazing how motivated you'll become when there's a gift waiting for you at the finish line. 

To-do lists are evil, but they're also effective. Make one. 

If you've got a million things to get done and not enough hours to do them, you should probably make a list. Prioritize them. The thing that absolutely has to get done today needs to go first. The things you want to do, but the world won't end if you don't, put those at the end. Not only is it extremely satisfying to make lists and then check things off as you do them, having all of your tasks in front of you like that can be a little daunting... which ties back to stress thing. It's a motivator. 

Get a watch and actually wear it. 

Enough said. 

Remind yourself that the sooner you do the thing, the sooner you can stop thinking about it.

When you're a serial procrastinator, it's often the thought of doing something, not the actual act of doing it, that makes you want to stay in bed all day. Don't worry, you're not the only one who does this, I promise. I do it all the time, and when I catch myself thinking like that, I ask myself three questions:

  1. Will getting this thing over with make my life easier and less stressful? 
  2. Am I agonizing over doing this thing because I can't do it, or because I don't want to? 
  3. Will I remember doing this thing I really don't want to do in a week? A month? A year? 

The answers to these questions almost always go like this: yes, don't want to, no. If those are your answers, too, just get up and do the thing. Whatever it is. Go mow the lawn, go do some laundry, go to work, crank out a 10-page paper. Just do it so you can stop thinking about it. 

Us procrastinators have one fatal flaw in common: we underestimate just how quickly time passes. Time is the easiest thing to lose, and we're all guilty of letting it get away. Hopefully these tips will help you out a little bit. Or not. There's a very good chance that, like me, you know these things already, but you'll still put doing that thing off anyway. Oh well. I tried. (I'm going to write that paper now, I swear.)Photo by Tierra Reese