I have a confession to make… (maybe I should start all my posts this way?) I have been a procrastinator since, well, probably since I was 3 years old. I have always liked doing my own thing, in my own time. For example: with homework. If it’s an assignment I am interested in, you can consider it done. However, if it’s not, I will drag my feet until literally the last minute. (I once had an auditory presentation to do in honors biology about ethics and I totally winged it. I thought about it for about 5 minutes the night before. BUT I got an A.) Even if the project is something fun (like blogging), I will procrastinate for forever. I am still trying to figure out the why, but for now, the most important thing is the how – how do I get on with my life and beat procrastination.
Productivity (Anti-Procrastination) Tip #1
JUST DO IT! I cannot overemphasize the power of this mindset. What’s the worst thing that could happen? The worst thing if you don’t go for it is always worse than the worst if you went for it (other than doing something illegal…). Honestly. For me, writing essays (or stories, or just writing) is easy, after I start. Sometimes it’s just bullying myself enough to open up Microsoft Word and put even just the prompt. Then I can write a 10-page paper in seemingly no time. It’s starting that’s the hard part! And don’t start it later. I know how hard it is to start (I’m not good at working and taking breaks, so starting and finishing) an essay the day it is assigned, but trust me, it will save you SO MUCH stress in the long run. Plus, you will be able to relax while your friends have to crunch to get their last minute power point on the President of the United States ready for their 8 am class! (and gloat – friends can gloat)
Productivity (Anti-Procrastination) Tip #2
If it can be done in 5 minutes, do it now. Depending on your work/school/other commitments, this could be smaller (a minute) or larger (20 minutes). If folding the laundry or taking it upstairs can be done in 5 minutes or less, do it now. Will scheduling a doctors appointment take less than 5 minutes? (if not, can you simplify it by making the appointment online? That’s usually faster than talking on the phone) If so, do it now. What about editing a batch of photos you took last weekend that is still on your camera? That may take a bit more than 5 minutes (or 5 hours…. guilty), but you can import them from your memory card into your photo library for streamlining the editing process at a later time. Inserting a memory card into the slot takes all of 5 seconds, people.
(And while we’re on the subject of time, mini-rant, USE YOUR SIGNAL WHEN YOU ARE DRIVING! Changing lanes, turning, etc. I don’t care if there is nobody else on the road. It does NOT take ANY extra time or effort (your finger is right there – use your middle finger if you must). Getting in the habit makes everyone’s lives easier. It’s not just about you on the road! Okay, rant over)
Productivity (Anti-Procrastination) Tip #3
If you have procrastinated on it for 2 weeks, do it NOW. I don’t care if you have other things to do. The world will not explode if you don’t fold the laundry this minute, and most likely, if you were going to do that instead of whatever else you were procrastinating on, you will do it in a reasonable amount of time. If you have been procrastinating writing said blog post on procrastination for 2 weeks (okay – I started it 2 days ago… but let me make my point) then just DO IT! And if you don’t, well then it can’t have been that important to begin with (and you should re-evaluate your values – post coming soon – depending on how long I procrastinate for).
Productivity (Anti-Procrastination) Tip #4
Have an accountability buddy! Your best friend, your mother, or even the Internet (glances around sheepishly). Accountability has been well-shown to work well in keeping habits or doing things you say you’re going to do. If you tell somebody that you are going to do yoga every night for a week (even ask if they’ll do it with you), you’re more likely to do it! Especially if they’re texting you (emailing, calling, knocking down your door, whatever) and badgering you until you do it. Note Parents! This does NOT work well for getting your children to do their homework! If you want a child to do their homework, you have to do yours too. (should I write a ‘parenting’ post? I’ve never been a parent, but as a mostly grown-up child, I’ve picked up a few things in my lifetime).
Best case scenario: Level – Hard
Figure out why you are procrastinating in the first place! If you need to, go to therapy! I won’t judge. Lots of people go to therapy nowadays – it’s basically having someone to listen to you rant and another mind to help you figure out your problems after you’ve laid all your cards on the table (and yes, they will listen to you laying them all down in a not-so-organized manner and help you organize them if needed). This is not a must-do step though! Many people are happy working these things out on their own. But in order to really get to the root of the problem (so it doesn’t come back like an angry wolf), you have to figure out why you are procrastinating! Yes, I know, easier said than done. I heard a quote the other day that said something along the lines of ‘just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy’. YES! This is my new quote for the month, and possibly next month as well 🙂
Hopefully, these tips will help you get out of your procrastination rut a little bit. If you are a student going into any type of school (or even work) scenario in the fall, I recommend starting to practice this NOW. Practice does not necessarily make perfect, but practice definitely makes things easier.