It’s 9:00 PM and you have a paper due in the morning which you haven’t even started working on yet. This is not the first time you’ve pushed a project deadline and you think back to the many weeks you had to complete a project but you still aren’t doing what you’re supposed to.
Does this sound familiar? All of us have been guilty of procrastination at some point in our lives. The end result of procrastination may be a missed opportunity, regret, or a low-quality result. To help you deal with procrastination here are twelve tips to help you get started.1. Break the Assignment Into Smaller, more manageable piecesWhen you get started on a project do you ever feel like you won’t be able to complete it? Don’t.
Not everything has to be finished all at once. To avoid overwhelm, break your project into individual tasks, for example, if you’re writing a paper and a step may be to research, then make an outline, etc. specifying and breaking it down makes it less daunting and more approachable. You may feel a thrill of accomplishment every time you check something off the list.2. Make It specificIn tip 1 we talked about how to break down our projects. So this step is going to structure your to-do list around that.
So, for example, you could specify how many pages or paragraphs you want to do in a day or specify what sources you’re going to use so it’s not this overwhelming abstract goal and remember to incorporate these specific goals into your planning to see how and when to fit that in. Try not to make crazy overachieving goals because this can easily and quickly discourage you and lead you to be not as motivated when you may be falling behind on that goal. Writing down your steps and goals can also help you to bring your goals and thoughts to something physical and crossing them off gives you a sense of accomplishment which may keep you motivated. Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there”.
3. Rules Are Meant to Be BrokenWhen you finally begin writing your paper don’t feel like you need it do it perfectly. You don’t have to finish ALL of your research to begin a rough draft or first draft you can always tweak it later. If You’re gonna wait until you have it to be perfect you’re gonna have to wait a very long time. Research enough to get an idea of what the information is showing so you know what you’re writing about and you can get started.
There really are no “set” rules to writing so just let yourself flow and you can always tweak it later. People have different ways of writing and just go for what suits you there is no perfect way to write a paper.4. First Things FirstOur natural tendency is to start with tasks that are easy or fun, putting off tasks that are not so much. We try to convince ourselves it’s not procrastination but you know it is.
Yes, exercising, shopping for groceries, cleaning your room is important just make sure you’re not using theseactivities as excuses to put off the more difficult time-consuming task you may be facing it’s important to prioritize especially on a task that has deadlines.5. Set Yourself Up to SucceedKnow yourself. Instead of putting yourself into situations where you have to resist temptation try to avoid those temptations instead. We naturally are not the best to avoid temptations like if you have a huge jar of cookies next to you. Try to schedule your time devoted to writing and times for a break based on a path avoiding temptation. Like, don’t plan to go to a coffee shop for a few hours knowing your friends are out doing something fun because odds are after a little bit you’ll probably end up ditching and meeting up with them. Which then you’ll feel all guilty for not accomplishing your task which may discourage you, prolonging it.
Maybe give yourself that night off and promise to yourself you will work on it at a SPECIFIC time as soon as you can and like when you give yourself a break generally try to have an idea of what you’ll be doing or plan it. Don’t watch only 20 minutes of a movie you’ve been wanting to or only watching a couple random youtube videos.6. Use Rewards as IncentivesMost of us would rather be any activity choose rather than doing a writing assignment for school. It’s easier focusing on your project when you have something to look forward to.
So make sure to schedule rewards for your smaller specific tasks also when you finally do it feels really good and relaxing to be able to watch a movie or do whatever without feeling guilty.7. Write Bad First Drafts (aka Stop Being a Perfectionist)A common reason for procrastination is a fear of failure. You don’t wanna start writing until your thoughts are perfect, your research is amazing and you have the perfect introduction in your mind.
Its normal for us to want our papers to be perfect, but this often leads to a whole lot of stress which turns often then leads to procrastination. It’s important to realize its OK to write a really bad first draft, or second or third… Nobody has to see these bad drafts but you. Stop worrying that your thoughts make no sense just keep rolling around on the keyboard and tweaking it. Don’t be hard on yourself and just flow with your thoughts so don’t give up when you’re not in love your first draft. Even a horrible first draft is better than none at all8.
There’s Nothing Wrong with a Little Time Off …Sometimes it is very beneficial to take time off from writing…
Before I go any further i would like to add on… this tip is not an excuse to take time off before you’ve even started writing. No. Taking some time off to think about your project you haven’t even started on is not gonna do anything if you’ve been following alongside these concepts in this paper and you have a mental block its okay to take a break. There are points in writing where you can become too close to it and have trouble recognizing flaws and have trouble seeing if the ideas and concepts you’re trying to convey fall into place well. So taking a break can certainly help you get unblocked but taking this time off doesn’t mean forgetting about the assignment all together.
Still take time to think about the ideas to find clarity in your writing so you can update it when you’re done with you break during the break it can be sometimes helpful do do activities that require a bit less thinking such as exercise, cooking, and painting.9. Don’t Be Afraid to Turn to Other People for HelpWe tend to avoid asking for help or sharing our difficulties with other people – telling your professor “I just don’t know what to write about,” may seem like a shameful admission of defeat, but it’s not. Pre-committing publicly will help you stay motivated. Knowing that someone knows about your goals and them checking up on you may definitely help and keep you on track, you may ask a teacher, parent, friend, to keep tabs on you. The next thing i want to bring up is important and that is to communicate with someone about your possible fears/anxieties.
This can reduce those feelings.10. Realize your consequencesRealize what it would mean if you were to not complete your task or delay any further. Try not to focus on how it will affect you more short-term, but long-term, what will this do to me if I don’t break this habit of procrastination. On a similar note, realize how great it will be to finish your task, what will it do for you? “Researchers have discovered that people are more likely to save for their future retirement if they’re shown digitally aged photographs of themselves. Why? Because it makes their future self feel more real—making the future benefits of saving also feel more weighty.
When we apply a lo-fi version of this technique to any task we’ve been avoiding, by taking a moment to paint ourselves a vivid mental picture of the benefits of getting it done, it can sometimes be just enough to get us unstuck.” (Harvard Business Review)11. Just Get Started!This is the most obvious but most important, and that is to just do it. A blank page can induce panic in pretty much all of us, just writing words on that page to eliminate that blankness is the best thing to do to overcome this fear and you’ll find that the more you type without worrying and overthinking what you’re saying the easier the writing will become