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Is There Something Else You Should Be Doing?

Is there something else you are supposed to be doing right now? A paper due in ten hours? A pile of laundry on your bedroom floor?  Groceries to get at the store?  Wait! Do not go away yet because I have something to share with you about procrastination.

What is procrastination? 

Procrastination is putting off tasks that should be focused on that seem to be unpleasant so that one can engage in more pleasant tasks. For example, you can be having a science project due in two days but instead, one may choose to catch up with the series and finish the science project at a later time. This can lead to poor quality of work and damage to your reputation.

Well, there are two categories of procrastinators. The first category is the situational procrastinator, whose behavior depends on the specific task they have to do. If they don’t like it, they will push it off and try to avoid it. Examples of those tasks include laundry, cleaning and anything involving unpleasant conversation.

The other category is the chronic procrastinator, who has trouble finishing any task at all. They have a tough time anything done.

Why do we procrastinate?

We procrastinate mainly because:

We tend to avoid the unpleasant tasks and want to engage in the more pleasant tasks

Poor prioritizing of tasks

Waiting until we feel like doing a particular task.

Being disorganized.

Poor time management.

How can we avoid procrastination?

I am sure that we have all been in a position of procrastinating things and we are more than willing to learn how to avoid it. So I will go straight to the point.

Firstly, in order for us to stop procrastinating, we need to break the large task into smaller tasks. If I give you a large cake and tell you to eat it, how will you begin? By swallowing it as a whole or cutting it into smaller pieces? I believe you would cut it into pieces then eat it.  In this case, the cake is the task to be accomplished. In order to do it effectively, you will have to break it into smaller chunks which are easily accomplished.

Secondly, we can avoid procrastination by setting deadlines for each task. Figure out all the tasks needed to be accomplished then prioritize them. For example, you may say that your physics project will be due by Thursday and assign some time to do it. You can also set a deadline for filing your tax returns before the actual deadline to avoid last minute rush.

Thirdly, we can avoid procrastination by avoiding the ‘siren songs’. By this, I mean the distractions around us. If you have some work to be done and you find yourself getting distracted by Facebook or video games, you can let your roommate change the Wi-Fi password to keep yourself on track for the job you have to accomplish or the exam you have to study for.

Fourthly, we can avoid procrastination by focusing on the idea of getting the task done rather than doing the task to perfection. Aiming for the perfection of the task can be holding you back. Instead, focus on the effort you will have put in doing the task and later reward yourself for the job well done, which brings me to the next point.

Always reward yourself when you finish the task. The anticipation of you rewarding yourself with what you like will be enough drive to let you finish the task at hand.

Another way to avoid procrastinating is by motivating yourself by a pep talk. A monologue or ‘self-talking’ using your name is an awesome way to get you to a state of calmness and focus. It can be something like this;

“Mary, I understand that this has been a tough week for you but you can handle doing laundry.”

“Jane, I know many fear astrophysics but you can rock in this astrophysics project.”

This will leave you motivated and ready to start your project.

Also, we can avoid procrastination by having a to-do list of goals you need to achieve. Jotting the list on paper will aid in what you need to do in order to achieve them all and to think about them from time to time.

Finally, avoid procrastination by starting with the most important tasks within smaller bits of time. For example, think of accomplishing the task in intervals of ten minutes instead of thinking about the total time the whole task will take. You will find that a certain drive will develop and you will end up finishing the task in more than ten minutes without feeling uneasy.

We have the ability to avoid procrastination. Follow the tips I have talked about and commit to changing your old habits. Ask yourself why you procrastinate then go on a journey of self -reflection.  Love whatever you do and do not put it off until tomorrow.