7 Tips to (Finally) Beat Procrastination
We all know the feeling well: there’s a giant deadline looming ahead of us, yet instead of studiously pondering Kant’s semiotics or polishing the final chapter of our novel, we’re on Facebook checking out an acquaintance’s Thailand vacation pictures.
We often put off a task until the very last minute, by which time it is very difficult to complete. Only then do we realise how much easier it would have been had we accomplished more earlier, finishing the task in good time, before the impending deadline.. To finally beat procrastination, here are seven tips that you can use in order to go from squandering time to saving it, which will significantly improve both the quality and output of your work.
1) Give Yourself an Earlier Deadline
Phew, there’s still plenty of time to submit that important paper. After all, the deadline isn’t for another three weeks. So we say… But then we find ourselves — a couple days or even the night before an assignment is due — kicking ourselves for not having got more work done a bit earlier.
In order to avoid such situations, pretend that your deadline has in fact been cut in half. Yes, your initial product might not be perfect, but unlike late night cramming sessions, you’ll have the time and energy to calmly go over your work, correct errors, and be your own best editor.
2) Break Down a Project
Tackling a large and time-consuming task on your “to-do” list, such as writing the first chapter of a thesis, can seem like a very daunting task. Therefore, we simply put the whole thing off completely. In order to be more constructive, think of what you can accomplish if you tackle a task in small chunks, working on its individual components. Don’t just make a list of tasks but rather order them according to their importance. Then highlight what you can accomplish right now, including things as small as buying a book needed for your research. Getting off to a concrete start will make the overall Looming Giant Project seem less abstract and overwhelming.
3) Think, “What can I do in seven minutes?”
We often become so caught up in a large, complex task that we forget about the small but important ones that we need to do during the day, such as sending that important email, or even a two minute reply to someone who has helped us out. Or preventing the trash bin from overflowing whilst we are mulling over a complex report. Checking off these “lucky seven” tasks, ones which can be completed in a mere seven minutes, takes little time and effort, and smooths out the path for more efficient and successful work on greater projects.
4) Reduce Procrastination Pit Stops
We often know what makes us susceptible to procrastination: being distracted by a myriad of social media, checking our phones every time we hear it beep, or reading, well, something more interesting. Breaks are healthy and improve overall concentration, but they become roadblocks when they stop us from concentrating in the first place. Instead, take a few ‘“power hours’, scheduling in 10 minute breaks at the 50 minute mark of each hour.
5) Do a Time Audit
Does it sometimes feel like the day flies by, and you don’t know where all of the time went? There’s an easy solution: log what you do during the day and identify the time “black holes” that suck up our time, often for longer than we think. Being aware of these once-mysterious forces makes it easier to avoid them going forward.
6) There is No Perfect Time
Often we put off doing a task because we think that a better time will come up in the future to do it. Maybe when we’re less tired, or have done more research. Yet usually there is no perfect time, and the longer we wait for one, the harder a task becomes to accomplish. We waited this long already – we tell ourselves – so why not wait a little longer? But at the end of the day, it’s up to us to step up to the plate and realise that, ultimately, the main force holding us back — or moving us forward — is ourselves.
7) Become More Mellow with Mellel
We most often procrastinate on the things that we don’t really want to be doing. And who can blame us if we don’t want to carve out the time to format a 300 page document or ensure the precise spellings and grammatical conjugations of a multilingual document? Make the time for the writing tasks you really enjoy, and let Mellel take care of rest — it’ll do an efficient and effective job at it, and give you your precious time back.