Do you put the “pro” in procrastinate?
In truth, we’ve all experienced how difficult it feels just to start. So we tend to ignore it and focus on something more fun instead. But then, before we realize, a project that at first seemed manageable now appears next to impossible to complete.
So we go into a deadline-induced panic.
Even if you think you work well under stress and pressure in college, you probably still feel the overwhelming sense of anxiety that accompanies procrastination, whether or not you meet that looming deadline.
But if you want to break your procrastination habit, you can. It’s fixable. All you need is a solid support system and a few clever productivity tactics to keep your self-discipline and focus in check.
So instead of falling into the frantic last-minute cycle again, use this list of tools and strategies to push ahead and finish what needs to be done.
1. Play That Music
Music boosts your energy and keeps you alert. So if you are distracted by the slightest of sounds in a usually quiet atmosphere, music can drown out any spontaneous interruptions. It also has a powerful effect on your mood and recall. When you select the right song to play while studying, writing a paper or posting in the discussion board, the tune can trigger your memory.
2. Find a Study Buddy
If you find it difficult to sit down and create a study guide for your next exam, team up with a few classmates to draft a master study guide. Assign each person a section to work on. Perhaps one of your teammates has a better understanding of the material in a specific section and can help you better grasp the concepts. Then, combine everyone’s work for a complete and comprehensive guide.
3. Grab Your Phone
Use your smartphone to your advantage. Make use of those awkward segments of time throughout the day when you may have a 10-minute opening. Waiting for your kid to finish soccer practice? Have a couple minutes before your meeting starts? Study anytime by loading your notes onto your phone or turning them into digital, on-the-go flashcards with an app like Quizlet.
4. Make It Fun
It’s ok to face it - we avoid tasks because they seem boring. The easiest way to fix this is to make those tasks fun. For example, if you are writing a paper, invite a friend who might have their own work to do to join you at a coffee shop. Or recruit your kids to quiz you on your study material. Your kids will love helping (and they’ll learn something too!).
5. Take Advantage of Web Apps
Writing apps like Hemingway and Grammarly can ease the process of writing papers by helping you write more clearly. Think of these apps as your own personal writing coach. As you write, the app identifies hard to read sentences, as well as awkward phrasing, and promotes better word choices.
6. Set an Alarm
Not just any alarm. One programmed to tell you what you need to do and how it will impact your day. Think, “start working on your paper now and you’ll be able to go to a movie.” If you ignore that one, then set another saying, “if you start your paper now, you can watch an hourlong drama,” and so on. This type of self-reward system can help you better manage your time and still fulfill your wants later on.
7. Recruit a Supervisor
Being accountable to someone is often the drive we need to kick us into gear. Use a similar tactic to ensure your schoolwork is done on time. Ask someone to check on your progress periodically to assure you’re staying on task. This someone can be your spouse, a friend or even your children. Choose wisely, though. You want someone who is serious about helping and won’t try to bother you while you are working. Your teenaged son or daughter will probably be very good at checking up on you and keeping you on task. Maybe even too good.
8. Do Your Least Favorite Work First
When you do your least favorite work first, you will increase your confidence and decrease your stress levels. And, naturally, avoid procrastination later on. Finishing the largest item on your to-do list will give you the productivity boost you need to do other assignments you may have pushed aside.
9. Change Your Perspective
Are things just not right in your usual study space? Or do you just not like it anymore? Maybe it’s too loud, too quiet, too dark or just too hot. Consider making a change. Try working in your local coffee shop, in a community library or a nearby park. The change in scenery and perspective will impact your productivity for the better.
Written by Thomas Edison State University