Monday, October 7, 2013

Methods to Curb Your Procrastination

Joshua Searle

We’ve all been there, browsing the internet or doing some menial task knowing well that we have homework or a project to do, but choose to ignore it until the last minute. We then cram or come up with some crazy plan to get out of doing the assignment, when just doing it in the first place would have been exponentially easier. This, as many of you know, is referred to as procrastination, and it has affected nearly all school students one time or another. Speaking from a huge amount of experience, I know procrastination is a very difficult habit to break. However, when different methods are applied together gradually increase your productivity, you’ll turn your back on procrastination and have actual free time before you know it.
 Before you even unzip your backpack, find and set up an ideal working environment, with no distractions in sight and nothing near you that could interfere with your focus. Never work on a bed; procrastination is bad, but sleeping on the job is practically a step down in productivity. The first step is to get started on your actual assignment. This seems obvious, I know, but it’s the main reason that most students procrastinate late into the night, for we feel much less motivation to finish an assignment when we haven’t started it than when we are already working on it. As psychologist Carl Pickhardt says, “In the end, the antidote to procrastination is determination because when motivation becomes committed and effort is consistent, the engine of accomplishment is hard to stop.” He confirms just how much accomplishing a small amount of homework is a driving force. Another useful method is by rewarding yourself in intervals. The Pomodoro Technique makes use of a timer, in which you set the timer for 25 min. and take a 5 min. break afterwards, where you give yourself a small reward such as a snack or a listen to one of your favorite songs. Beware choosing your reward, however, for if it is a video game or the internet, you might choose to ignore the timer. You can gradually start increasing the work time to further increase your productivity as well, and, before you know it, you’ll have plenty of time to give yourself whatever rewards you wish.
 You should also be self-aware of your procrastination, for when we procrastinate, we often deny the fact that we are procrastinating, and think to ourselves that we “have plenty of time” to finish our assignments. We then keep putting off doing the assignment late into the night, turning that “load of time” we have into a few hours (or even minutes). Another technique is to set deadlines for yourself as you’re completing your homework (i.e. “I have to finish my math homework by 6 P.M.), as this will further motivate you to finish assignments right away. Preferably, write the deadline down so you can give youself a visual aid of what you need to do and by when you have to do it (what do you think your planner is for?). As you work, you should also try and think positively about the assignment. Instead of thinking, “Ugh, only 20 min. of TORTURE left!” try and think to yourself, “This is great! I’m being so productive right now! Look at what I’ve done already!” There are also tons of iphone and android apps out there to help you be productive, such as “(10+2)x5 Procrastination Hack” and “Focus Time” (the Pomodoro technique on your phone!), and also “Finish” and “Priority Matrix” (task sheets that list out what you need to do, if you want to be fancier than your planner). In the end, the only thing that can curb your procrastination is yourself, and your willpower to get things done early. Don’t be expected to do this by yourself, however, for if you put to use all of these techniques, I guarantee you’ll start to see significant improvements to your overall productivity.

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