The clock ticks, the hand moves from 7:00pm to 11:00pm. Where did all the time go? You look up at your laptop screen, starting back are the 5 assignments you promised you would finish days ago. The adrenaline hits! You rush to type in answers you aren't even sure are correct and scramble to find the right words to finish up your essay. Finally, as your head hits the pillow at 2:00am, you tell yourself you will never procrastinate again. But how can you be sure you won’t do it next time? What steps do you need to take to break the cycle? I’m here to answer all of your questions and more, and to make sure you aren’t full of dread at 2:00am ever again. Listed below are my top five tips for beating procrastination this school year.
Separate Emotions From the Task at Hand
Oftentimes procrastinators are thought of as lazy, but that simply isn’t the case. Procrastination usually stems from fear or anxiety tied to the task at hand. At its core, procrastination is a coping mechanism that protects us from that stress. To break the cycle of procrastination, we need to remove the fear and anxiety associated with the task. You must address why you are feeling a certain way. Is it because you are putting too much pressure on yourself? Is it because you are scared to fail? Once you understand whatever is making you anxious, you can work towards eliminating it, thus eliminating procrastination. Although this is easier said than done, it’s important we separate our emotions from the task. Remind yourself that you are capable and have no reason to be afraid. You are not a procrastinator; you are just someone who is struggling with procrastination, and you can get through it.
Start creating incentives for yourself! Having something to look forward to can help you power through work and get things done. My favorite way to use positive reinforcement is by setting a goal such as the amount of work I would like to get done and a reward I will obtain once the work is completed. The rewards don’t have to be a big deal- it can be something as simple as watching an episode of your favorite TV show or getting to play a video game. Personally, I like to keep a bowl of candy on my desk. When I complete a chunk of work, I reward myself with a piece of candy. It’s also important to have discipline; for positive reinforcement to really work, you need to make sure you actually do the work before rewarding yourself. Positive reinforcement creates good habits and can train your brain to want to get stuff done! After practicing a couple times, you will be more motivated to complete your work because you know you will gain a reward.
Let's Break it Down and Take Breaks
Starting large chunks of work can be daunting and cause you to procrastinate, so don't do it! Break your work into sections and take breaks- this way, you feel less overwhelmed and have more achievable goals. An easy way to do this is by using a Pomodoro timer. The timer will break your work into twenty-five minute sections with five minute breaks in between. At the end of four or five sessions you will get a longer ten minute break. Knowing you won’t have to work for extended periods of time can help ease anxiety that causes procrastination. Another tip to break up the work is the ten minute rule. Tell yourself you only have to work for ten minutes and then you can move on; oftentimes you will find yourself working past this limit. The ten minute method basically tricks your brain out of procrastination!
Put That Phone Down
I don’t mean to sound like your mother, but your phone is making you procrastinate! To limit procrastination, it’s important to get rid of all distractions, including your phone. When you are working, set your phone face down and out of reach; this way, you aren’t tempted to scroll through TikTok or watch Netflix. If that isn’t enough to limit temptations consider investing in a phone lock box or putting your phone in a different room. With your phone out of sight, you can work without any distractions or chance of procrastination.
Let’s take a look at the top methods for eliminating procrastination.
Now that you have my top procrastination tips under your sleeve, you can step into the school year confident that your assignments will be completed and turned in stress free.