Procrastination is the action – or, some would argue, art – of voluntarily delaying or postponing something until a later date.
Though we tend to shrug off a penchant for procrastination as part of our ‘process’, this counter-productive habit can cause undue stress and guilt, all the while making our lives a whole lot harder than they need to be.
Wondering how to stop procrastinating? It’s time to kick this needless habit to the curb with our top anti-procrastination tips.
1. Set goals and schedules
Your first step is to understand exactly how much study you need to put in to your course each week and make yourself accountable with study goals and a schedule.
Try and make your goals as specific as possible to help you stay on track. For example, a goal could be dedicating one hour every alternate day to study, rather than planning to study for four hours a week.
You’re far less likely to procrastinate if you tell yourself that you’ve allocated study for a specific part of the day than if you just promise to study sometime today.
2. Eat the frog
As the author of dozens of novels, short stories, non-fiction works and essays, Mark Twain knew a thing or two about productivity, and famously advised people to “eat a live frog” first thing in the morning… figuratively, of course.
In this pearl of wisdom, the live frog is the biggest and most important task of the day, and it’s often the most unpleasant. Your ‘live frog’ is the task most likely to lead to procrastination if you don’t tackle it straight away.
By eating the frog first, you can get on with your day knowing the toughest job has already been achieved. Eating your frog is about developing a routine of achieving productivity early in the day, and persisting until the task is complete.
3. Dangle a carrot
Is there something else you’d rather be doing? Think of that more enjoyable activity as a carrot you can dangle in front of yourself.
Whether it’s a lunch date with friends, reading a new novel or sitting down for a marathon session of your favourite TV drama, promising yourself a reward after you’ve completed your study session can be a wonderful motivator to get it done.
4. Eliminate temptation
What temptations usually lure you into procrastination mode? Figure out what they are and then eliminate them so you can focus on your study goals.
For example, if you find it hard to sit down and study when you know household chores need to be done, take your books or laptop to the local library, where laundry and dishes can be put out of sight and mind.
If you find yourself checking emails or browsing Facebook, download a productivity app that blocks certain websites on your computer for a set period of time.
5. Forget perfection
Many of us procrastinate because we fear failure, we’re intimidated by a task, or because we put ourselves under pressure to do something perfectly.
Instead of aiming for perfection or feeling overwhelmed, focus on just getting started. Simply read the first page of your text book, or begin jotting down notes for your essay.
Getting something done is far better than doing nothing at all and you’ll often find that once you get the ball rolling, your motivation to continue will increase.