DO IT NOW: 5 ways to beat procrastinationPosted on
Procrastination is just a natural part of studying, right?
Well, half right.
Economist George Ainslie suggests that procrastination is a basic human instinct – that’s right, something that could follow us around for the rest of our lives! So, if we’re naturally built to put things off until tomorrow, how are we ever meant to get anything done? The following tips will provide you with the skills you need to overcome procrastination right now and long into your future.
1) Own it: No excuses, acknowledge what you’re doing
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, all of us do it in one way or another, and researchers actually think that it’s perfectionists (yep, those of us who never appear to put a foot wrong) who are the worst offenders! Procrastinators have a tendency to tell themselves that what they’re doing is actually productive – “If I take a nap now, I’ll focus better later”. Sometimes this is true: when work and study collide, the all-important sleep can take a back seat. But generally it’s just another excuse; another thing to make us feel guilt and shame. By recognising procrastination for what it is, you’ll have more cognitive energy and be much less stressed!
2) Know yourself
If you know how you work you can put systems in place to avoid procrastination. Take, for example, a student of Beauty Therapy who has a passion for all-natural beauty products. Researching trends and new lines of these products is not productive approach for all assessment items. It may help their overall career, yes, but there is a time and place for that kind of research. By acknowledging this and admitting that they have a tendency to avoid assessment by looking up loosely related topics, the student will have a better chance at catching procrastination before it takes full hold!
Similarly, it’s important to know where you work best. If you know that there are too many distractions at home, go to the library. If you need support and work best with a friend, invite them to work with you. Working in a positive environment will do wonders for your concentration and you’ll be more likely to get through your study before that procrastination monster shows up!
3) Create urgency with planning
Plan your day, week and month. This can be done in whatever way works for you. For some people diaries work, others need a calendar or whiteboard in front of their desk. Making visual maps of where your time needs to go will help you to stay on top of it all and will decrease the likeliness of you putting things off for later. Whatever works for you, just plan it and stick to your plan!
The best way to do this is to plan for everything. Allow time for the unexpected. Schedule in rest. Record when you have work commitments, when your best friend’s birthday is, when you wanted to go out to see that band, or when your son has footy practice. If you allocate your time to commitments around study, you’ll be able to create a sense of urgency. With the appearance of less time, you’ll be able to use your time more wisely while also maintaining a healthy study-life balance.
4) Estimate the cost of your time
Approaching tasks as if you’re being paid for them is an effective way of avoiding procrastination. Imagine that someone is paying you for the time you spend studying. Calculate the figures if that helps. Making yourself accountable and acknowledging how much your time is worth will drive you to use it wisely. Afterall, you wouldn’t watch so much daytime TV or make multiple trips to the fridge and back if you were working under the eyes of your boss, would you?
5) Remember your end goal
Even if you love what you’re studying, not every assessment item will be fun. The best way to focus when your heart is not quite in it is to remember why you started. End goals are time-bound so, often, they’re much more effective than “To Do” lists (which we tend to spend more time writing and rewriting than actually doing!). By focusing on why you started studying, you’ll be able to pull out the threads of your assessment that are relevant. Use your end goal to drive you forwards, toward that career change you wanted, or that upskilling you needed for your promotion. Procrastination doesn’t stand a chance against the freedom of those magical words: course complete.
Article by Kelsey Bricknell