According to scientific research, a good 95% of students at university engage in procrastination. Perhaps this statistic doesn’t surprise you. Yet we thought to still share it with you just to make you feel a little better. 🙂 We’re all in the same boat. But what does procrastination actually mean?
Procrastination is the conscious and purposeful avoidance of tasks that need to be done. Does that mean you’re lazy? No. You see, being lazy is the act of simply doing nothing, or at least… nothing really productive. But whenever we procrastinate, what we are really doing is not what we are supposed to be doing. That does not mean that whatever we are doing instead is not good for us. So perhaps, a first good method to stop procrastination is:
#1 Appreciate your status
Whenever you catch yourself procrastinating whilst doing something, whether that be university work, or reading something important, try to appreciate that moment. Try to appreciate the fact that you’ve just realized that you’re doing something you’re not meant to do. Many people go through life without really being aware of what they are doing. Being aware of what you are doing, whether that be good or bad, is the start of finding a solution to the problem.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase. Just take the first step.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
#2 Set daily goals
I know we’ve already talked about goal-setting in another article… perhaps try and apply this concept to your day-to-day life. Setting up a specific plan with time-slots that outline what you’re going to do during this time is incredibly effective. What I always like to do at the beginning of every semester, especially when exams are around the corner, is to make myself a specific daily plan on all the things I want to achieve during that day. By doing so, I don’t only feel motivated in the mornings, ready to crush the day, but I also feel satisfied by the time I go back to bed, knowing I’ve made the most of my time.
Make sure to take a couple of hours off as well to reinforce and reward yourself on those goals. This will help you condition your daily routine for the long-run.
#3 Build momentum
We all know that feeling when coming back from a nice long holiday, knowing that by Monday, we’ll be thrown back into work. Many of us find the first couple of days hard when it comes to getting back on track. But after 3 days we’re usually back into our routine. This is due to the fact that we’ve gained momentum in whatever we’re currently doing. If you actually force yourself to stop procrastinating and consistently work for 3 days, you’ll notice how quickly you can build momentum. For me, I always experience a sense of ‘control over myself’ when doing so. Working on a consistent basis gives me a feeling of having control over my life and so I always aim to maintain that feeling by consistently working on a day-to-day basis… and guess what… the more days in a row you do it for, the easier it gets. So start doing!
#4 Set a visual cue
What I’m about to tell you might sound completely stupid. But please, just give it a try and you will find that you can actually achieve great results with it! Setting a visual cue can involve anything that forces you to bring back your focus to your task whenever you look at something near you. For example, what I did was glue a red dot onto my upper right corner of my laptop screen. Every time I catch myself looking at the dot, I immediately bring my focus back to the task in front of me. That way I always have ‘someone’ who tells me to bring my focus back to what’s actually important. Just give it a try! 🙂
#5 Eat the elephant first
I’m someone who loves doing the stuff I don’t like first. Whether that be in the morning, afternoon or late at night… doing what you don’t like first, will simply make it less likely for you to procrastinate. This is because we usually tend to procrastinate on the tasks we don’t enjoy doing anyway! Remember that procrastination is linked to experiencing a sense of negative feelings with the task at hand. But if you invest your energy in doing the ‘big’ or ‘annoying’ task first, you don’t only feel a lot better after, but also know that there is only more enjoyable stuff to come!
Take-home message. Try and apply these techniques to your daily life and you’ll not only find yourself being a lot more productive throughout the day, but also feel much more motivated once you actually gain some more control. Remember that before doing anything, appreciate the fact that you’re procrastinating. Don’t dwell on the negatives of it, but instead start to forgive yourself. You can’t always be Superman. Yet keep in mind that you’re 100% in control of the time you have. So make it worth it.