November 27th, 2014
Hey grad pals, I hope you’re staying sane while you finish up those final papers and put in those late study nights. The end is near!
This is always the time of year for me when it can be really difficult to keep my motivation up and plow through the last few projects and exams. Often, even when there’s so much to do with deadlines fast approaching, somehow I’ll find myself cleaning my fridge, organizing my itunes library, or even calling my PARENTS to “check in”. Basically, I’ll do anything to avoid what I actually need to get done.
It’s that tricky little thing they call procrastination. Here’s my theory: I think it’s not that some people are more or less prone to procrastination, but that we’re all different types of procrastinators. Everyone does it, just in different ways. And each type needs their own specific tricks and strategies to be their most productive self.
Ironically, there are so many “self help” articles and lists of tips to overcome procrastination that it’s overwhelming. The good thing is that you can put off your work even longer by browsing the internet doing something quasi-productive. At least it’s better than Netflix, right?
But to save you the time, here is a list of my favourite tips and strategies to avoid procrastination and to get things done, categorized by the classic “types” of procrastinator. What type are you?
You find it difficult to start or complete a task because you aren’t 100% sure where to start and the thought of getting every detail perfect is overwhelming. You also find it really hard to finish something because you’re rarely satisfied with your work.
- Focus on what’s realistic rather than what’s ideal
- Make daily to-do lists with manageable small tasks that you can complete that day
- Reward yourself for achieving small goals
- Learn to hit “submit” before the absolute last minute (I’m still working on this one!)
You find abstract thoughts more pleasant to think about than the real-life actions that need to be taken. You spend too much time on strategy and the conceptual make-up of your project, and put off putting that plan into action.
- Turn that dream into a goal: define it, and break it down into what you need to get done to get there
- Schedule time for creative work or daydreaming, and schedule time for crossing off tasks from your to-do list
- Plan out tasks visually: make a work-back schedule so you can see how you’re slowly chipping away at your end-goal
The Last Minute Junkie
You thrive off the pressure of pushing a deadline to the last minute. You enjoy working under a deadline on a task that would otherwise seem boring, and you need that push to get you going.
- Identify motivators for a task rather than waiting for the stress to kick-in
- Create deadlines for yourself as a way to use your natural deadline-induced adrenaline rush to finish tasks earlier
You find it difficult to prioritize and balance the multiple demands on your time. You may take on too much and procrastinate on one task because it means sacrificing time on other projects.
- Recognize and respect your personal limitations. You’re only one guy/gal!
- Focus your thoughts on how to gain personal control, rather than how tasks control you and your time
- Think about your day as an adventure in making choices, rather than a struggle to do everything
- Make a daily to-do list based on your true priorities
Hope this helps, thanks for reading! Now stop procrastinating and get back to work!