How to Overcome Procrastination

Believe it or not, procrastination has been a hot topic in the field of psychology for over 120 years. Almost 75% of students consider themselves to be procrastinators, with the three most common forms of procrastination being sleeping, playing video games, and watching TV (or Netflixing).

To help you overcome procrastination, we share some tips that can help:

Forgive Yourself

The truth is everyone procrastinates, even the ones that say they are super productive. They will experience a lull in concentration or productivity. What makes it worse, and prolongs your procrastination is that you keep beating yourself up for procrastinating. This starts a vicious circle where you keep blaming yourself instead of addressing the issue.

As human beings, we are so vulnerable to our own negative self-talk. We say things like “why did you play on your PS4 til late last night” or “I am such a loser” which does not bode well with our self-esteem.

Rather than demoralising yourself, practice forgiving yourself instead. Studies show that forgiving your past procrastinations will prevent you from putting off your work.

Determine Your “Why” And Focus On It

Procrastinators tend to focus on external short-gains, like avoiding stressful situations. When this becomes a habit, you'll find that you leave things to the very last minute. And what's even worse is that you'll do it again next time around. Then, you'll ask yourself why you always leave things to the last minute.

By taking a moment to figure out why you always leave it to the last minute will help to uncover any lingering issues you might have. Maybe you don't have a good understanding of the topic you're studying, maybe you're afraid of failure, anxiety or lack confidence. 

By confronting these issues, and acknowledging them, you will become self-aware of your procrastinating tendencies. This will help you move forward in the correct direction. You can also practice this awareness exercise to identify any intrinsic motivators like why you wanted to do the course in the first place, this will enable you to do studies with a genuine interest.

Minimize Your Distraction

Technology is both a blessing and a curse. It is a great resource for your studies but it can lure you into wasting countless hours on social media, online gaming and pointless YouTube videos. 

Make use of social media blockers such as Offtime, Moment and Freedom. Also, keep away from your smartphone. That notification can wait.

Also, when you are studying, make sure your study space is only used for studying. And nothing else.

Get a Bullet Journal or Other Time Management Tool

Our time is precious and it is wasted away on unproductive things like Facebook and Instagram, we can't help but feel rather guilty (which is why it is really important to forgive yourself). To help you manage your time more effectively and efficiently, make use of a time management tool like a Bullet Journal.

Bullet Journals is an analogue (pen and paper) system that helps you manage your schedules, projects, ideas, and your daily task list in a simple notebook. One academic professional Katie Shrieve shared her experience of using a Bullet Journal on her blog:

"Bullet Journal has been an essential part of my daily planning for years now. For a teacher and a higher-ed professional, one feature that I love about [the Bullet Journal] is its adaptability,” wrote Shrives. 

Besides using a Bullet Journal, you can try weekly academic diaries, a to-do list, an electronic calendar to help stay organised.

Break Your Tasks/Assignments into Small Chunks

When assigned to do a mammoth piece of coursework, it is easy to feel quite overwhelmed and not know where to start. When faced with this sort of situation, get a piece of paper, go through the assignment and write all the mini-tasks that you need to do. For example, if you were asked to do or write an essay for me, break it into small manageable chunks with the first one being identifying key resources, followed by writing an outline, writing the first draft, editing and proofreading.

Working with smaller chunks and crossing them off as you go along, you will notice you will feel more accomplished at the end of the day.

Reward Yourself

If you completed all the tasks that you set out to do today, reward yourself. Just make sure you don't check your social media, binge-watch Netflix, or play any games until after you finished your tasks. Don't let these be a distraction, make it your incentive.

Thanks for reading! What are your thoughts on this topic? Let us know in the comments section below.