Stop Procrastinating: A Few Tricks

Abandoned Architecture (AnOther Magazine). Photo: James Kerwin
Dilapidation of a lecture room due to procrastinating students; Photo: James Kerwin

Since grad school and after having had to turn in at least three 20-pg. papers (note- font size pt.11 only) each semester, I’ve learned a few tricks on how to work efficiently. In this instance, what I mean by “work efficiently” focuses on minimizing the urge to procrastinate.

Easily said than done. I agree with you. But, from my experience the reasons we procrastinate include: a. finding the assignment ghastly boring and tedious, so we put it off. B. the assignment requires critical analysis and extensive research, so we put it off again feeling exhausted just looking at it. If what I said sound familiar to you, I am here to help.

#1. Before tackling, learn the full scope of your assignment as to assess the amount time and effort you would need to invest.

By learning the full scope of the task should help gage if you’d be able to do just a little bit each day until the deadline. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by having to finish at once, do a little at a time makes it easier to organize and retain focus.

Discussing work

#2. Do all your house chores and clean your rooms before getting started.

Does this sound like utter non-sense to you? Well, stay with me a minute. Before starting to work, suddenly you realize the house needs cleaning, so you give yourself a temporary excuse to walk away. This is more psychological than physical, chances are the house has always been this dusty before today or that it isn’t at all as bad. So my suggestion is to take care all of that first. If something physical is bothering you, get rid of it so your mind can concentrate on the assignment again.

Doing work with computer on a sofa

#3. In between work, go out and do physical exercise or take a walk.

Doing work that requires a lot of thinking is exhausting. From time to time, you want to grab a snack even though you are not feeling terribly hungry, but just to walk away. I’d say, do walk away. But, don’t go to the fridge for ice-cream or greasy snacks. Not only would you regret it, your stomach won’t thank you. Instead, go out for some fresh air. I find doing physical exercise takes me out of my mind and thus give it a break. Especially, when you feel stuck and frustrated, get out and take a walk. Remember to drop any thoughts of the assignment while on the walk, other wise, it would increase your anxiety. 

These are just the few of my tricks to minimize the urge to put off work and procrastinate. If you have other things on your mind, leave a comment or contact me. I am sure we can find something together to solve this annoying problem.

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