How to Stop Procrastinating From An Ex-Master Procrastinator

To say I used to be a procrastinator would probably be an understatement. Time management was not a term in my vocabulary, not there was much to even have to manage my time around. Deadlines did not faze me. And the feeling most would define as stress was unknown to me.

I know, I must be crazy. But to those of you who are or used to be master procrastinators, you understand what I’m talking about.

I honestly can’t remember the first time this habit festered within me, but it has been a part of me for quite a while. And I think the reason why the habit stuck around for so long was that even though I procrastinated and turned in half-assed work, I would still get good grades, reinforcing my terrible behavior. Every time, I would start a project, paper, homework, anything really, closer and closer to its due date, and every single time, I would get it done and done well.

But working like this is not manageable long term. In high school, the assignments were small enough and spaced out with minimal overlap, so everything could get done. You can push work off in college, it’s not hard, there’s always something else you’d rather do. Just don’t be surprised when you’re drowning in a pile of work and trust me, completing all of your work will be mission impossible. And unlike Tom Cruise, you probably won’t succeed.  

In the middle of my first semester of college, I wanted to change my work habits.  

I started by figuring out which time management tool worked best for me. Throughout high school, my school provided me with a free planner, and every year, I would tell myself I would use it that year, but never did. So planners just were not for me.  

I tried other methods and what I found to be the most useful for me were weekly to-do lists and Google Calendar. I have a weekly to-do list on my desktop with tasks for each of my classes as well as other extra-curricular activities, and I use Google Calendar to provide me with a monthly view so I can see long-term events and activities.  

The next thing I did was break up my assignments into more manageable tasks. When you have a single massive task, even when you are consistently working on it, you feel like you have done nothing. By breaking up the assignment, you can clearly see what progress you have made if you accomplish one of the tasks associated with the assignment, which is very encouraging.  

The final change I made was the hardest for me, but I began working on an assignment the day they were assigned, regardless of when it was due. This is literally the exact opposite of procrastination. Procrastinating, at least for me, meant pushing off when I started off an assignment. I had no trouble finishing my work once I started, but that initial push to begin the assignment was my greatest struggle. So by forcing myself to start an assignment on the same day it was assigned, I overcame this.  

Keep in mind, this is just what worked for me. This is not to say I am now some perfect person who never pushes things off, sometimes life just gets to you and you can’t help it. But I can proudly say I am no longer the procrastinator I used to be. And let me tell you, my sanity is grateful for it. 

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