If you’re procrastinating right now, you might as well read VOX’s Nahila Louis-Charles’ piece on how to stop.
Procrastination will ruin your life. Take it from me, the ultimate procrastinator. I have finished eight-page research papers the morning they were due and studied for tests right before the class starts; imagine trying to understand a years worth of work in a week for finals. Crazy, right? Procrastinating for me, at least this year, was stressful and tiring. I rarely slept well because I ended up procrastinating and working on projects and assignments at three in the morning. I always thought I worked best under pressure. Sound like you? I’m going to help you get yo life.
Stop making excuses
First things first, don’t blame your procrastination on someone else or on time. There’s never a perfect time to do something. Complaining about the situation isn’t going to help you complete the task. Self-motivation is the key. People who are self-motivated are more organized, have better time management skills, and tend to have higher self-esteem and more confidence.
Stop the excessive breaks
Excessive breaks only prolong your work schedule. The more breaks you take, the longer it will take you for you to get the initial task done. It’s hard to break habits but you can start new ones. It takes twenty- one days to create a habit. Instead of thinking, “I’m gonna get back to it soon”, think,“ I’ll be done with it soon.”
Use the buddy system: hang out with people who inspire you to take action
The people around you, believe it or not, have a huge influence on your work ethic, your habits, and your drive. I guarantee you if you hang around ambitious and hard-working people, you will adopt their practices. Having a buddy to help you achieve your goals and keep you accountable is good because you can learn from each other.
Phones and other electronics can be a distraction. You may be tempted to use them while performing your task.Turn off your electronic devices or give them to a friend to keep it while you complete the task. If your are in a noisy area, and you think it’s going to distract you remove yourself. Go to a place where you can do nothing but study: a library, an empty classroom, a designated study area, a café or cafeteria.
Time your tasks
Timing yourself is good because it prevents your task from dragging on and on. If you set a specific time period and stick to it, you will get your work done. Of course, set a time that is realistic and attainable. If a task requires 3 hours, don’t set 4 hours because you will use up one hour unnecessarily.
Hold yourself accountable
Come up with a consequence that will stop you from avoiding the task. For example, ¨If I don’t finish this paper, I can’t go to Kim’s house.¨ Break down your project into small tasks, then create specific deadlines for each small task.
Create an inspirational board … and reward yourself
Give yourself positive self-talks.When we find work too overwhelming for ourselves, we subconsciously procrastinate . Focus on the success you will achieve and the joy you will feel when you finish the task. When you finish your goals for the day, take the night off. After a successful week, go out with your friends.
This article originally ran in Summer 2015.