Phrases such as ‘I’ll do it in an hour’ or ‘maybe tomorrow’ may sound familiar because you’ve likely uttered it to yourself several times when it comes to tasks you need to finish. We’re all guilty of procrastinating, and though we want to stop putting things off it’s easier said than done, especially when you don’t want to do the task at all. Here are some tips and suggestions to get you started on breaking your procrastination streak!
1. Prioritize and Commit
Take some time to sort through the most important tasks that need to be done. Is it writing that research paper due in a week? Or studying for an upcoming exam? Which has a bigger impact and requires more of your attention and time? Once you’ve done that, work on your tasks in order of importance to help get the most urgent ones out of the way.
Commit to tackling your list one at a time so that you can give each matter the attention it deserves, even if you’re good at multitasking don’t tackle four subjects at once. It is best to focus on a single item for a fixed amount of time before moving onto the next task.
2. Start Right Away
Once you know what you must do, do it. Don’t give yourself time to begin making excuses or back away for the next hour or so. The saying ‘you give an inch and they take a mile’ applies well in these sorts of situations, if you put it off, you’ll simply find more excuses to keep from working on it.
Don’t give your brain any time to try and say ‘an hour won’t hurt’ or any other justifications for not simply sitting down and getting started. Unless you have a class or a job, then you have time to work on whatever needs to be done.
3. Create a Schedule
Write down what you need to do in a planner. Sometimes seeing a physical schedule in front of you serves as a good motivator because you have written in a plan for yourself that works around everything else you have. It also prevents any headaches in figuring out what you have time to do and averts any conflicting schedules that might interfere with your work or study time.
4. Do a Power Hour
Essentially a power hour is a block of time where you sit down and work with breaks in between. The block can be longer than an hour, but the key is to set an amount of time for focused work with breaks. A popular tool used for this is a Pomodoro timer wherein you set a study session for 30-40 minutes with a 10-minute break between study sessions.
The reason why this works is that our brain works in bursts of energy as well wander if we try to concentrate on a single subject for too long. Taking a short break allows our brains to diffuse and absorb the information while getting a mini reset before tackling your work once more. You’ll find that you retain more information by working this way.
Only you can study or work for yourself. Only you will be taking that test, so it’s important to hold yourself accountable. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t receive help from others. For instance, have a friend help you hold yourself accountable for completing tasks by asking them to hide your phone until you’ve accomplished the work. Or you can have them time you to finish an assignment and if not, the next two meals out are on you.
Get creative with your incentives or disincentives but the point is to be accountable. Eliminate distractions and find ways to make sure you commit to your tasks at hand. This will make it much easier for you to get your work done, and you’ll find yourself feeling great when you see a clear schedule at the end of the day.