We all procrastinate important tasks once in a while. The problem arises when we’re procrastinating all the time and not recognizing it as a habit. While eliminating procrastination completely is an unrealistic goal, there are several things you can do to limit the number of times or duration of time you procrastinate for.
Identify your daily goals.
In order to stop delaying important tasks, you have to identify those tasks in the first place. This might sound like a reductant point, but hear me out. If you start the day by identifying all the things you have to complete within that day, you will hold yourself more accountable compared to when you identify them as you go. Every morning make a list of goals you want to accomplish on a piece of paper, your notebook, or the notes app and tick them off as you go.
Set specific goals
Identifying your daily goals isn’t enough to overcome procrastination; your goals must be specific. Instead of saying “I aim to finish reading for my Art History class” say “I aim to finish 3 chapters of my Art History reading.” Instead of saying “I aim to finish studying for my Calculus test” say “I aim to finish 3 problem sets.” Replace vague goals with measurable ones by setting a duration of time you want to work towards a subject or deciding exactly what test material you want to study for. Set specific goals in the beginning of your day so when you begin, you know exactly what to do and how long to do it.
Set realistic goals – change your internal dialogue
Another way we tend to procrastinate is by setting ourselves up for failure by creating unrealistic goals. By deciding to do more than you are able to in a day, you inevitably disappoint and demotivate yourself. A big part of overcoming procrastination is setting realistic goals. Instead of beating yourself up about not being able to read 100 pages in a day and then not reading at all, decide to read 50 pages in a day. Setting realistic goals will keep you motivated to continue ticking things off your list at a speed that is more comfortable and productive for you. Here, you are changing your internal dialogue from “I can’t do this but I have to” to “I can do this and I chose to.”
Include easy tasks
Along the same vein of setting yourself up for success, remember to include easy tasks on your daily to do list. Just because a task is easy doesn’t mean it doesn’t take up time or that it isn’t important. This serves as a reminder that there are tasks that you are completely capable of doing to give you energy for the harder tasks. Whether that easy task is doing laundry, drinking 8 glasses of water a day, going for a walk, or calling a friend, make sure you are reminding yourself of the things you are capable of to help you through the things you doubt yourself about.
Find your productive flow
When you do sit down to do those harder tasks, make sure it is in a space you feel most productive. Procrastination becomes easier when you have snacks around you or you are in bed than if you are at your desk or on a bench outdoors. Whatever your ideal environment, location, and time of day is, find it and use it to your advantage to complete your daily tasks.
Getting started is always hard. If you have been having issues with procrastination for a while, starting out your journey to productivity can be challenging. It may feel easy to slip into old habits without realizing. This is why it is important to creative accountability. Ask your study consultant, friend, or family member to check up on you at the end of the day or week to see how you have been doing in terms of overcoming procrastination. A good way to create accountability is by giving them a list of things you hope to complete at the end of the day or week and asking them to replay them back to you at the end so you are more motivated to complete them.
Factor in room for faults
The most important thing to remember is that is okay and inevitable that you will procrastinate. It is impossible to be fully charged and 100% focused throughout your day, so don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself falling behind. Schedule rest hours or socializing hours through your day and be kind to yourself when you aren’t feeling as productive as you hoped. Just remember to take that task into account the next day and finish it first so you don’t fall back into old habits.