Defeating Procrastination

It’s 11 pm on a Sunday night, the big paper is due tomorrow morning, and you’re staring at an empty Word document you should’ve started working on two weeks ago. We’ve all been there. Here are some tips to prevent those all-nighters and help you kick procrastination’s ugly butt.

KEEP A TIME LOG

As you move throughout your day, keep a record of all your activities and the time you spent on them. This log can be on paper, on your laptop, or in your phone, as long as it’s within easy access all day. An example time log might look like this:

image

Be honest about how long you spent on each task! At the end of the day, look back over your log and conduct a reflection and analysis. Ask yourself:

  • Am I spending too much time on tasks that could be completed much more quickly?
  • Am I wasting time on activities that don’t make me truly happy?
  • Am I prioritizing the things I value most (school, health, family, etc)?
  • Am I spending too much time on small, easy tasks to avoid larger, more difficult ones?
  • Am I focused intently on one task until it’s complete, or am I constantly getting interrupted?

After answering the five questions, I’ve marked up my example log with some reflections and comments:

image

Although it’s probably not feasible to keep this time log every single day, I recommend trying it out for at least 3-5 days to give you a better idea of where your time goes and where your procrastination potholes lie.

ELIMINATE DIGITAL DISTRACTIONS

Turn off your phone and put it in another room or someplace you won’t be able to see it. Close all your email/Facebook/Tumblr tabs. If you need to focus intently for a longer period of time, consider temporarily deleting all the social media apps off of your phone so you won’t be tempted. For your computer, use website blockers {Chrome//Mac//Windows} to block distracting websites (or the entire Internet).

Basically, make it as difficult as possible to impulsively scroll through your feed and get sucked into the “just one more post” vortex.

GO ON AN ADVENTURE

Reject the tradition that finals week means jam-packed libraries and overcrowded Starbucks stores. If you have the means of transportation, take your books and flashcards to a scenic, peaceful, inspiring new location. Cal Newport dubs this “adventure studying” and claims that studying in novel and beautiful places will enhance creativity, improve comprehension, and most importantly, be fun.

Here are some suggestions for adventure studying destinations that are sure to increase your motivation:

  • a park or botanical garden
  • the pool or beach
  • a little cafe far off-campus or in another town
  • the middle of the woods
  • a museum (make sure it’s not during peak visitor times!)

And now for the most cliché but effective advice ever…

JUST START.

Think about a big assignment or project that’s been scaring you. Then think about what your desired outcome for that project is. And then think of the very next step you need to take to move you just a little bit further towards the end result you want. Is it writing the first paragraph? Contacting a mentor? Finding a certain resource online? Whatever it may be, go take that first step. Now. It doesn’t have to be perfect— let’s face it, you could spend the rest of the day rewriting that first sentence and it still wouldn’t be flawless. But you’ll feel so, so much better just by beginning. So cut the excuses, start a timer, and go get that shit done.

Thanks for reading! All of my reader interactions and personalized advice can be found on my Tumblr. If you have questions, feedback, or post requests, feel free to drop a Tumblr ask or contact me.:)

—Sophia

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