Look, I know you’re reading this blog because the last thing you want to do right now is write that paper on the late Ottoman Empire. Really, I understand. I’ve been there too. But procrastination is dangerous. Seriously. It chased me down 4th Avenue with a knife once. Not even kidding. Here’s some information about procrastination and some tips on how to fight it off, even when it’s got a knife.
Procrastination stems from several sources, among them:
- Trying to be perfect – What may be the goal of a perfectionist may well be looked on by others as nitpicking. Perfectionists usually see their responsibilities as burdens, making it more difficult for them to accomplish tasks in a timely manner. They start tasks but put off completion until it meets their standards for perfection. However, these standards are most likely not recognized or appreciated by others, and thereby the perfectionist has wasted a lot of time to accomplish the unnecessary.
- Feeling overwhelmed – When we don’t know how to do something, it’s easier not to do anything at all. Or maybe we feel it’d be too time consuming to learn what is needed to accomplish a particular task. It seems like it would take forever to complete.
- Poor work habits – Some people procrastinate on everything. They are so far behind that they are trying to keep up with yesterday. Talk about too much stress! Their response is usually, “I work best under pressure.” If truth be known, they are poor organizers and have trouble prioritizing tasks and scheduling their time. It is easier to wait until the last minute to start a task because in their mind it’s not important.
- Rather do something else – Unfortunately, we all dislike certain tasks that we have to do anyway. It could be filing, expense reports, writing papers, doing math problems, writing letters to crazy aunts, or anything. So you keep putting it off. Wishing it would go away. Think about what would happen if you delayed all your unpleasant responsibilities. After awhile, their numbers build up to where that’s all there is to do. Then everything is awful. Just awful. Consider the risks of waiting for that last minute adrenaline rush. What if you get sick? What if priorities change? Unexpected crises? Recall the nightmare you lived the last time you put everything off till the last minute. Not fun, huh?
Here’s how you can overcome procrastination:
- Modify your environment. If you can’t study at home, find a place where you can study, whether it be the library, Think Coffee, the park, or anywhere in between. Or, you can change your study situation at home!
- Figure out which activities you use to procrastinate (my favorites are Netflix, Hulu, Facebook, and Tumblr) and set strict time limits. If you’ve got a Mac, you can download this program called Self Control which allows you to block particular websites for several hours. You can also download this word processor called Ommwriter which will immerse you in that paper you’re writing without other distractions you may have on your computer, like Roller Coaster Tycoon or World of Warcraft.
- Break the task down into manageable parts. Decide a starting point and work for short periods of time, say 10 to 20 minutes. Then check off each part as it’s completed. This imparts the feeling of accomplishment as work is being completed.
- Really concentrate on something you’re working on for just fifteen minutes, whether it be reading, writing, memorizing, or anything in between. At the end of fifteen minutes, switch to something else if you want. Chances are, you’ll be invested enough in your work at that point to keep going.
Follow these techniques and you’re sure to conquer procrastination, once and for all.