Procrastination as a word is thrown around a lot. It has become a signature part of our vocabulary. We are always putting off doing things and that’s not surprising given how active modern society is and how many things are there for us to get distracted by and so, finally here are some top tips for avoiding procrastination. There is hardly someone in this world who do not procrastinate but many have trained themself to avoid procrastination and hopefully by using these tips, you can do the same. Just keep in mind that it is very important that you get stuck into your tasks quickly and make the most out of your time as you can.
1) Resistance and how to eliminate it:
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First of all, let us look at resistance and how we can eliminate resistance from tasks and make it easier for us to choose to be productive. This is one of the most important and easiest thing that we can do to stop procrastinating. We procrastinate by checking our phones, surfing through Instagram, binge watching series etc. because these tasks seems easier than undertaking the tasks which we have got to do and so everything becomes a lot easier when we do not give ourselves such choice. Unfortunately, humans always seem to choose the easiest option. But we can overcome it if we just eliminate the easier option. We have to try limiting the amount of choice we have so that we are encouraged to do the thing which we want to do. Time tables help you a lot when you study especially if you are going to have a long study day and there is a lot of stuff that you need to get done. You will get so much more of your time if you plan it properly. Time tables reduce the amount of resistance you have to tasks because everything is already mapped out in front of you and give yourself less of a choice. This may not completely stop you from procrastinating but in practice, it prevents you from procrastinating.
So, how to make a Time-Table?
• Go through all your due tasks and make a note of them in your to-do list.
• Transfer the tasks to a minute-by-minute time table by analysing how long it will take you to complete those tasks.
This is important because it gives you an idea of how much you can accomplish in a specific amount of time. Try to do as much you can but don’t be over-ambitious as that can be very demotivating and then that can have a knock-on effect on your productivity. And if this continues on the next day or the day after, it will make you procrastinate. You can even follow Parkinson’s law . Parkinson’s law suggests that the amount of time taken to complete a task will lengthen to fill the amount of time provided. This makes setting time constraints super important. When you give yourself less time to complete a task, you will notice that you work more productively because you know that you have got to finish it in a specific amount of time. If you do your tasks in such time constraints, then you are more likely to get that work done without being distracted because you have got less time to complete it. You might have noticed such productivity boost right before a test or an exam or a coursework essay deadline. You can work so productively because you force yourself to work in a really focused way. It has to have the same kind of weight as if someone externally were sending you something. Remember that your promises to yourself are just as important as external ones.
2) Identifying and avoiding distractions:
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The ammunition to procrastination is distraction. So, it is really important that you know what things distract you. So, by realizing this, you will be able to incorporate some things to you study time table. You can make a note of all of the things that end up distracting you from your work, the things that cause you to procrastinate. If you feel that your phone is the reason of your distraction, here are three tips on how to avoid procrastinating on your phone: Keep your phone outside of your room, delete your social media apps and then just re-download them afterwards if you find you keep on opening them on default. Download the app called Forest which prevents you from going on other apps on your phone while working. For example, you have to just go to Forest and set yourself a timer and by doing so, you can’t use other apps on your phone whilst you are doing the task; otherwise your tree will die. It is a really great app worth looking into. So, with your time table, if you are not sure how you can keep yourself accountable and keep that momentum going, you can try using it. The book The Now Habit recommends that you try a clocking in and out system so you challenge yourself to do all of your work in some scheduled hours per week for example, say 20 hours and this forces focus work and prevents you from getting distracted because you cannot afford to and because you have got 20 minutes to work with. Just on the subject of planning, when you are working, you will often remember something you have got to do, like something tiny or you will see an e-mail pop-up and get the urge to go to that task until the present one gets completed thus allowing distraction. You can solve this by keeping a paper on your desk and when something comes up, write it down so that you can keep your flow and also keep that in mind. A clean workspace, airy, light, bright can also help to keep you away from distractions.
3) Which task should you start with?
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Which task should you start with in order to prevent procrastination and maximize productivity? Have you heard of frogs and banisters? It is the idea that you should start with the harder tasks and then move on to the easier tasks because at the end of the day, the harder tasks are the ones you are more resistant to work on. It is true that the really hard daunting tasks should be very early on in your time table or to-do list but it should not be the first thing. The first thing on your to-do list should always be something that you are excited to do, something which is fairly easy to get done, and something which isn’t going to take very long. This quote from Jeff Hayden “Success leads to motivation leads to success leads to more motivation” explains that to enhance motivation, you need to have small successes. So, by starting your day with a small success, you feel motivated to keep on going and to get that bigger task done as your second task of the day. If you start with the bigger task and if it’s going to take you three-four hours, then you are not going to tick a single task off your to-do list the whole way through your morning. This is quite demotivating and that can lead to procrastination. However, if you have got that one quick thing done in the morning, you can look down at your to-do list and feel that you have accomplished quite a lot. This enhances motivation and leads to less procrastination. You can also break that bigger task into smaller tasks to make them more manageable. It is easier to do that and as you look through the list, it feels like you are getting stuff done.
Some quick tips for getting started with work:
• Tell yourself that you need to do only five minutes of work and then you are done. If you are finding it really hard and you are really resisting sitting down to work, then set a five-minute timer and sit down. You will realise it wasn’t as bad as you thought. You just need to overcome that initial resistance. The five-minute acts as a catalyst which means you are over able to overcome that activation energy and actually get started with the work and get that work done.
• If you are quite a perfectionist and so you put-off doing things that you want to do perfectly because you are scared that if you sit down to do it right now, you won’t do it perfectly or you won’t do it right. So, you end up putting things off. You can avoid this resistance by setting a timer for 30 minutes to sit down and write something. This will bring the required flow in you.