I have a PhD in procrastination. Ok, not really, but I might as well, given that I’m a self-proclaimed expert at finding ways to avoid any task that I don’t really feel like tackling. However, as we all know procrastination is a long road that leads to anxiety and stress and often ends with you producing far less quality work that what you could have produced had you managed your time efficiently. So, for 2019, one of my goals was to procrastinate less and I’ve been able to do this by making a few simple changes in the way I organise my life. So here are my top seven (7) tips for overcoming procrastination and getting your life in order! I hope it helps!
- Write a list of your tasks
In my experience, having a list of tasks you need to complete helps you recognise the vast amount of work you have to get done and kicks you into gear. I also recommend making detailed daily work plans to help keep you motivated and focused. The trick is to plan everything down to the hour (e.g. work on literature review from 9-12 am; have lunch with friends 12-1.30 p.m.), because it means you have to stick to the plan or risk running out of time to complete your list of daily goals.
- Set realistic goals
Noting motivates you more than success – so don’t set yourself up for failure by writing a list of daily tasks that is impossible to complete. Break your goals down into manageable tasks and then try to tackle a few each day. Bonus tip: try this great 1-3-5 method that has been working wonders for me lately!
- Take frequent breaks
Some people can sit for hours at a desk and plough through their work. Others like myself work best in short spurts, so it’s important that you take as many breaks as you need. I usually take a ten-minute break after every hour and it works wonders to clear my head and get me energized for the hour ahead.
- Change your work space
If you’re really stuck in a rut and can’t seem to find motivation, a change of scenery will help reinvigorate you and give you a fresh perspective. Try working from a different room in the house, a new library floor, or going to a bright and airy café.
- Avoid your time-wasters
I’m addicted to my phone, so I need to put it in the next room or at least out of reach, so that I don’t check it every time it pings. If you want to increase your focus, you need to identify and then distance yourself from your main distractions (phones, friends, netflix etc.).
- Work alongside a friend
Another thing that makes me feel quite motivated is working alongside my friends, especially when we give each other daily progress reports and offer feedback on each other’s work. So even if your friends are on different courses, you can still hold each other accountable for finishing that paper or that thesis chapter and help each other develop a more productive work style.
- Reward yourself
I’m a firm believer in positive reinforcement and celebrating the small wins of the day! So when you complete a task give yourself a reward for job well done! It could be anything from buying a cupcake, having a glass of wine or going for a gorgeous brunch with your girlfriends after completing a big project. In my experience having these small rewards to look forward to makes your work load less onerous and pushes you to finish your tasks faster.
I hope my tips help you and let me know if there are any others that have helped you!
Oh…. and if you’re procrastinating while reading this… get to work my friend!