We all know that feeling when your to-do list is already at capacity and you have a project due the next morning, but you just can’t wait to watch that YouTube video you heard about the other day...
Procrastination is a monster that attacks everyone, which is why we need to teach ourselves how to overcome it.
As a college student with a full-time job, 2 cats and 1 dog, I am actively doing something at least 16 hours each day. Needless to say, motivation needs to be my best friend at all times. That’s why I have developed pathways to keep my “procrastination monster” as far away as possible:
Try the Breakdown Technique
It is psychologically known that big tasks that require a lot of time are usually left for last, as opposed to simpler tasks that can be completed more quickly. That’s when the Breakdown Technique comes in handy. Let me explain:
Imagine you had 1 month to complete 300 math problems. A professional procrastinator would simply forget about the task, and start worrying about it approximately 2-3 days before it’s due. Instead, as soon as you receive the task, you should take 5 minutes to look at what you need to do, and break that down into smaller steps. In this case, you could complete 10 problems per day, and by the end of the month, you will have completed all of the 300 math problems. Work on 15 of them each day, and you will be done in 20 days-- ahead of deadline! So, do not be frightened when you have a big project to hand in, just plan ahead of time and you will be fine.
Defy Parkinson’s Law
According to the Parkinson’s Law, work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. That means that if you have to do something that will take 25 minutes, but you have 1 hour to do it, it’ll take you 1 hour to complete that 25-minute task. You can use this law as an advantage by setting up artificial timelines that will force you to get work done more efficiently. Although, I’d recommend creating realistic timelines as aggressive timelines can lead to unnecessary stress.
Apply The Pomodoro Technique
They say that getting started is the hardest part, but many procrastinators struggle with maintaining focus just as much as starting to do work. The Pomodoro Technique is my personal favorite way to maintain focus on something. This technique was developed in the late 1980s by Francesco Cirillo and is one of the most used time management methods out there. It consists of breaking down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes long, that are separated by 5-minute breaks. Also, after four 25-minute work sessions, it’s important to take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
So if your procrastination monster has been attacking your brain, now you can defeat it, and achieve your goals. And if you’ve tried all of these tips and are still having trouble with procrastination, there are also many freemium apps that can help you keep organized and remind you of your deadlines (Wrike, Trello (a personal favorite of the entire LP team), Wunderlist, etc).