“I work best under pressure.” “I’m not in the mood.” “I can’t do it.” Regardless of the excuse you make for not getting something done, procrastination is never a good tactic if you want to be successful in your degree program, career or personal life.
Finish the Difficult Tasks First
Often the idea of needing to complete a difficult task is what causes someone to procrastinate in the first place. By finishing the more difficult tasks first, you can move on to easier tasks or those that can be completed quickly.
Prioritizing your work can be a major factor for staying on track and feeling less stressed.
Create Realistic To-Do Lists
To-do lists can be a very helpful aid in fighting procrastination. They key to creating a useful to-do list is to be realistic in what you expect of yourself. Writing down a to-do list can help you visualize what needs to be done, but can also overwhelm you.
Break your to-do list into specific tasks that are part of larger goals you have. For example, instead of “write research paper”, include the smaller tasks that will help you do so, such as “create an outline” or “compile sources”. This can help you feel less overwhelmed and avoid missing parts of the project.
Determine a Timeline
A detailed timeline or schedule is essential to staying on track. Along with prioritizing tasks and creating to-do lists, a timeline can help ensure you don’t become overwhelmed by what you need to accomplish. When creating a timeline, consider the most time sensitive tasks, such as class assignments with a due date, first. Incorporate long-term projects or goals once the most time sensitive tasks are scheduled.
Even if you do not have an official deadline for all of the tasks you need to complete, it is a good idea to hold yourself to a deadline for everything. With that being said, understand that timelines can be adjusted as tasks with a higher priority come up.
While you may think that you are able to do several things at once, multitasking in nothing more than a distraction. It is important to free yourself of any external distractions, such as your cell phone, TV or other people, as well as internal distractions such as hunger, stress or exhaustion.
Scheduling designated times to work on the tasks you need to complete is necessary to ensure you won’t have conflicting obligations.
Find Someone Who Will Hold You Accountable
Using a “buddy system” is a great way to be held accountable. Share your goals with a spouse, parent, friend, advisor or someone else who can help you stay motivated and on track. Whether it is completing homework, working out, doing chores or quitting a bad habit, a support system can be of benefit to eliminating your procrastination.
The bottom line is that procrastinating is never a beneficial approach to accomplishing your goals. Take the time to create your own plan for success and stick to it.