How Not To Procrastinate: 5 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Time

Getting through work and school can sometimes feel like climbing up a never-ending mountain of papers, reports, assignments, presentations, and ultimately headaches. No matter how well we plan ahead or how much we get done in a day, there is always another pile of obligations to see to the next. With so much work to get done, it can be easy to become easily distracted to the point where you do not even feel like working on anything, regardless of how pressing it may be or how close the deadline is. Procrastination is not something that’s limited to only certain individuals; everybody is guilty of procrastinating at times. The difference is how you handle procrastination and how you work through it in order to get your work done. Here are five tricks to help you out the next time you feel that lack of urgency creeping up on you.

1. Overcome your fear.

Often times people put off starting projects and other assignments because they are afraid that they will fail in the endeavor or produce something less than satisfactory. Fear of success can also largely contribute to your habit of procrastinating because you might feel that you are undeserving of success. Learning to cope with your specific fear can be the first step to take in order to overcome your procrastinating habits. 

2. Work in a clean space.

Removing yourself from distractions by working in a quiet office, an empty classroom, or a room that is generally free of distraction can go a long way in keeping you focused on your work. Avoid working where the television is on or music is being played loudly; these can draw your focus away from your work and make you more interested in other activities that will keep you from fulfilling your prior obligations.

3. Prioritize your to-do list.

If you have a lot of work to get done and don’t know where to begin, start by making a to-do list. Prioritize your obligations by deadline proximity, or by the amount of time/work you will have to put into each project in order to complete it. Once you have a plan of attack, completing each assignment will become much easier. Be sure to take a break in between tasks so as not to feel overworked or weighed down, and reward yourself after completing each task with a small treat or other indulgence.  This will help make your work seem less daunting and encourage you to keep going as you scratch each task off of your list.

4. Handle large projects one small task at a time.

For those larger projects that will take more time to complete, create a schedule for finishing the task by the due date or deadline. Start by clarifying the purpose of the assignment or project, and then handle all of the various components one at a time until the final project has been completed. You can spread a project out over a couple of days, weeks, or months (depending on how much time is allotted to complete it), but be sure to complete at least one task every time you sit down to work.

5. Recognize when you start procrastinating.

Whenever you start to feel like Annie Hall (your physical self is sitting there working but your mind is off somewhere else), get up and take a break or go for a quick walk to collect your thoughts. Recognizing when you start to procrastinate can be the key to overcoming it. Another way to overcome this encroaching feeling is by focusing on one small task and forcing yourself to complete it. Many times you will find this can encourage you to keep working because you have redirected your mind to focus intensely on one task, and once you have completed that task your mind will want to move immediately onto the next one.

Remember, no one is perfect, and you will most likely still succumb to procrastination from time to time. If you can follow these steps, however, you will likely find yourself becoming more productive than you ever were before and leaving your bad habit far behind.