Beating Procrastination

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Tips and Hints
Tags: , ,

Your exams are coming up. You’ve probably got several assignments all due in the last week of semester. You have more work to do than there is time in the day.

Yet you just spent three hours on Facebook looking at photos of people you’ve never even met just because they randomly popped up on the sidebar.


Why do we procrastinate?

I’m procrastinating right now by writing this article. Why? Because the pile of assignments I have is just too draining, and so this seems easier, more enjoyable. Yet in fact it involves me doing the same thing I would be doing otherwise: sitting here and typing. The thing is, knowing you have to do something automatically kills the intrinsic interest you have in a topic. How many subjects have you absolutely loved the content matter of, yet found yourself hating it when the chore of having to do a major assignment or exam stresses you out? Which brings me to the next point:

Other times, it’s a way of dealing with stress. No matter how maladaptive procrastination is, it helps you leave behind the stress of the task at hand for a moment.


What type of procrastinator are you?

There are four distinct types of procrastination:

Self-Doubters:  Self-doubting procrastinators feel that they cannot live up to the standard of how something should be done. They second-guess everything and in doing so delay action.

Discomfort Dodging: That assignment is hard, that job is far too difficult, best I do the easy task first! Dodging the discomfort feels much better, so we put it off until later. Ironically, this just increases the level of discomfort when we have to face up to it!

Guilt-Driven: You feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for a task undone, but rather than correct the original lack of action, you procrastinate to not have to face up to the feelings of guilt.

Habitual: You’re just so used to procrastinating, you don’t even think about it, it’s just an ingrained response. The task becomes difficult, your concentration wavers and then you automatically decide to “just quickly check Facebook”.


So how do we beat procrastination?

The first sign, as always, is acceptance! Understand that you are procrastinating, why you are procrastinating and make it better. Then try these on for size:

o1 :: Eat An Elephant :: How do you eat an elephant? Chunk it down! Break up an overwhelming task into smaller pieces. Don’t have a break until you have finished the goal you set.

o2 :: Denounce Your Robotic Race :: If you are one of these people who stress over perfection: don’t! Accept you are only human, not a machine. Perfection is rarely attainable (if ever) and is even more rarely ever necessary. Use the 80/20 rule wherever appropriate!

o3 :: Free The Mind :: Minimise distractions: Turn off email notifications, find a quiet room, resist the urge to take breaks, unplug your internet if necessary!

o4 :: Cleanliness is next to Godliness :: Perfect your organisational skills. Have a clean work area. Have all stationary, notes, tools,  utensils etc in a proper place so you can find them when you need them. This will not only aid efficiency, but stop the urge to clean as a procrastination tool!

05 :: Schedule your priorities :: Distinguish obligations from options. Know what has to be done and estimate how long it will take to do it. List and prioritise (your student diary is perfect for that!). Set deadlines for decisions. Ask a parent/friend/sibling/partner to hold you accountable for sticking to your self-set deadline!

o6 :: Use the fork, Luke :: Stay healthy! Eats healthily and regularly, maintain a regular sleep routine, exercise for a break and always have breakfast

o7 :: Play Mum :: Remind yourself of the consequences of your actions. being lazy is going to end up with so-and-so happening to me. Only you will suffer the consequences!

08 :: Curing 3:30itis :: Do you lag in the afternoon? In the morning? After lunch? Use the lag time to make a list of things your want to achieve, so you can hit the ground running when you dive back into your work.

o9 :: Throw it into Reverse :: Take your excuse and turn it back onto itself. You’ll do it tomorrow because you’re too tired after work? Well take a 20 minute nap and then get started on that task! Make a solution task out of every excuse!

1o :: Play Santa :: Don’t forget to reward yourself for hard work done well! If you set yourself goals and achieve them, reward yourself by taking time off study to do something you want, something you put off to do the work

And with that, it’s time for me to return to my studies! Just after I make myself a coffee first…

  1. Amanda says:

    I’m definitely a #3! Thanks for the tips. I’ll have to give those a go!

  2. Stacy says:

    I’m both a discomfort dodger, and now unfortunately a habitual procrastinator!
    Trying to pick up my game for exams though, thanks for all the tips! 🙂

  3. Kylie T. says:

    I do almost all those things. It’s end of semester one, so I disassembled my desk to arrange my room after clearing it out. I still find it difficult to focus when studying. So I book consultation hours with my tutor in a few days time, that way I know I have to report to someone with all my questions. So I run through a few tutorial sheets and write down all my questions on a piece of paper and knowing I have to make the most of my time with the tutor, I am forced to do some work. It works.

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