How to Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination, the act of putting off things that we don’t like doing, is a universal human trait. Most people do it every day, sometimes even unaware that they are doing it. Sometimes, acts of procrastination can be trivial, such as watching another ten minutes of TV before hitting the gym. But other acts like not preparing adequately for your finals can have devastating consequences.

College students may feel the effects of procrastination more so than others. All throughout their life, they have had their parents and teachers at their back, demanding them do this homework, do that assignment, study for the finals etc. Then, when they hit college, all of a sudden, their support system has disappeared. With nobody prompting them to do what they know they should be doing, college students often succumb to the temptation of procrastinating, with their grades suffering as a result.

There are numerous methods to stop procrastination – if you believe in what the book store has to offer. With hundreds of books, all with clever catchy titles, throwing advice at you, the act of reading these books often feels like you’re just procrastinating from what you should be doing. With everything on offer, how to wade through all those information and find some easy ways to stop procrastinating? Below are some simple tips that can easy to implement into your life to help you keep up-to-date with all those that you need to do.

To-Do List

While many people like to scoff the good old to-do list, it really is an effective way to keep track of your tasks and remind you of the things you still need to do. However, to-do lists do come with some hazards of their own. There is nothing worse than writing things you need to do on scraps of loose paper and then end up losing them. Or spending hours a day jotting down every single little thing you need to do.

To have and maintain an effective to-do list, it is advised to keep it in a pad or journal that you can carry around with you everywhere. Instead of jotting down everything you need to do to go along, it would be much easier spending ten minutes just before you go to bed at night, writing down the things you need to do the next day. Limit the number of things you write down, otherwise, when you will be discouraged by all the tasks you didn’t get done in time. And give yourself the satisfaction of crossing out a task as soon as you finish it. With a bit of practice, the adoption of a well-maintained to-do list will help you focus on the things that you need to do.  

Neat and Tidy

When you see a tidy and neat studying environment, you actually feel inspired to sit down and study. On the other hand, a messy desk makes you want to slack off. Therefore, having and more importantly, maintaining, a clean and tidy study area is a big must in your battle against procrastination. At the end of your study session or the end of the day, spend 10 minutes putting back things to their proper place. 10 minutes a day will save you hours wasted on finding missing equipment or the tidy-up you’ll end up having to do.

Information Overload

Modern society is absolutely flooded with constantly new information and all sorts of gadgets to help you keep up-to-date. But do you really need to know that one of your primary school classmates is currently having the time of his life in Europe or that there is a dog out there who can bark to the tune of Jingle Bells? No. Once you’ve wasted time on surfing the net, checking your email, watching TV, that time is gone, and you won’t be able to get it back. While I’m not advocating all work and no play, but it’s important to put a limit on certain activities. For instance, limit checking your email to once or twice a day. Watch only the shows that you really want to watch – don’t use TV as an excuse to put off studying. And accept the fact that while knowing who won the latest season of American Idol is interesting, it’s not going to help you in the finals.

Reflect

It’s one thing to keep on track with the things you need to do now, it is also important to have in the back of your mind your long-term goals. Karen Lamb once said, “A year from now, you may wish you had started today.” So whenever you are doing something, ask yourself, is what I’m doing right now going to help me in the future. If it was a yes, then give it your all and try to do the best that you can. But if the answer is no, then simply get it done but don’t spend too much time on the finishing details or worrying over it. Remember, urgent tasks aren’t always important tasks. Also, I find this tactic often cuts short my play time because I know playing won’t help me in the future, prompting me to stop and go back to study.

Reward Yourself

But at the end of the day, once you’ve finished what you needed to do, it is important to reward yourself. Take some time off to socialize with friends, or catch up on your readings. Time off after the completion of a task will actually encourage you to do your tasks in the future. Once this becomes a habit, you’ll actually look forward to tackling your tasks because you know there will be satisfaction and reward at the end of the tunnel.