Ah, procrastination. The real bane of our time. Especially to those people who only begin to learn to manage their time effectively themselves, without any exterior help (from parents, for example). We are talking, of course, about the students.
Say, you need to write an essay. And you just don’t know how to start. You keep putting it off and getting yourself occupied with other errands, while the deadline approaches. It is not because you don’t want to write that essay. You have picked the topic yourself, and you were looking forward to speaking your mind in that topic. You just don’t know how to get yourself started.
Here are some practical tips that have proved to be effective for overcoming procrastination:
Before you can confront procrastination, you need to realize that you are procrastinating. If you are reading this, then you probably have. But what is procrastination? Essentially, it is fear. So, what you need to do is stop for a second and think – what exactly are you afraid of? This realization alone can prove to be enough to conquer that procrastination once and for all.
Even if you are not particularly keen on mathematics, you can see that (10+2)x5=60. And 60 is a number of minutes in an hour. This formula suggests the productive way to organize your one working hour: Every ten minutes of writing are followed by two minutes of relaxing. Repeat it five times, and you have an hour. The two minutes of break can be anything you want to do that is not writing. For example, you can watch a funny little video on YouTube or get up and walk around the room.
Now that you know how to have things done effectively, you can plan what exactly you will be doing. It might seem like a tedious task and a waste of time, but when you try it, you will be surprised to see how effective it is. Besides, it takes away the necessity of thinking what to do next all the time. Instead, you know what exactly you need to do at all times, so now you don’t have that excuse to procrastinate. Remember to include all the work-related activities in your timetable – from waiting for all the necessary software to load and checking email to having breaks and revising your accomplished work.
If you are facing a big task, such as a master’s thesis, the amount of work may seem terrifying. This makes it even more tempting to avoid getting to such work by all means.
The solution is to break down the big project into smaller and less “scary” tasks. Create an outline of the work that lies ahead of you, so that you could put all those tasks into your timetable.
When you sit down to write, it takes you awhile to prepare yourself, your desk, etc. It probably takes you not more than 15 minutes, but it is quite enough to distract you from your working mood. The solution here is to prepare all you can the night before. In other words, you should do your best to have everything ready for you to just sit down and write the next day. For example, if your task is to write an argumentative essay, you can put together a draft list of argumentative essay topics in advance. As we have mentioned, these preparations usually take only several minutes, so why don’t you spend these several minutes preparing the night before instead of taking them away from your working time the next day?
You have probably noticed that in some places you feel more inspired to write than in others. Some places just create a more productive environment. While many details may be involved here, one of the main factors is the color palette. It is no secret that being exposed to a certain color for a long period of time can influence your mood and the way your brain works at this time. For example, research has shown that blue color makes you more creative and helps you think outside the box, while red color is good for concentration and paying more attention to detail. So, try and surround yourself with these colors in your working environment.
We have briefly touched this idea in our previous paragraph, but, in fact, you can take it further. You can assign your home to be a place for comfort a relaxation while working elsewhere. Today, when you can have wireless Internet connection pretty much anywhere, you can just take your laptop and work at a library or at your favorite cafe.
It may seem like such places are full of distractions – people walking around, talking to each other, the opportunity to bump into a friend or into someone you would like to avoid, etc. In reality, however, these distractions are no match to those you have at home – such as that cozy sofa or that huge TV.
Elimination of distractions
Procrastination is when you do something less important instead of doing something more important. So, it is only logical to eliminate the temptation to move on to less important stuff by keeping only the more important stuff. It may seem complicated, but here is an example:
Have you ever tried to count how many times per day you pick your phone and slide to unlock for no reason? Studies have shown that the average number is 150. So, by removing your smartphone along with all other gadgets from your desktop, you eliminate these distractions. You can go further and switch off the Internet connection on your laptop altogether at times when you don’t need it.
In the ancient times, people would say that a healthy spirit dwells in a healthy body. You can prove that it is true by having a little workout every morning before you sit down to writing. No special equipment or investment is necessary. You can just go jogging or, if it’s a cold and rainy day, do some stretching and pushups.
The secret here is that physical exercise makes your blood flow faster. When the blood flows faster, it carries more oxygen to your brain, and thus, your brain is more saturated and more ready for work.
Richard Nolan is a writer and a private tutor, sharing his experience in spheres of writing, blogging, entrepreneurship and psychology. Richard writes for numerous blogs and gives useful tips for bloggers and students. Follow him on Twitter