Almost all of us do this, for one reason or another. Either you’re lazy, you’re tired, you’re fed up with a class, or you’ve just forgotten you have work to do—there are all sorts of reasons. And this thing is awful; it’s no help to anything in the long run, but yet I, like many others, fall victim to it again and again. This thing of which I speak is, of course, procrastination.
Procrastination, for the uninformed, is the practice of procrastinating—id est, to put off work until ‘later’ for a lengthy amount of time in favor of being generally unproductive. Many a time I’ve procrastinated on an assignment, only to find myself stressed out and rushing to complete it right before the deadline. (It’s a good thing I’m productive under pressure, or my bad procrastination habit would have doomed me right from the start of public school.)
Today, I’d like to write a little bit about how to prevent procrastination. It’s something that gets talked about a lot, but it does bear repeating so that it sinks in more effectively.
The first thing that really helps avoid procrastination is to impose limits upon yourself. Let’s say you give yourself so many hours of free time per day; the rest of the day, you have to do work, and so your projects will fit into that time slot. When I staunchly forbid myself from accessing my diversions, I’m able to get a lot more work done.
Another thing is to offer yourself rewards for completing tasks. If you finish that big project, you can get into that chocolate bar you’ve been craving. Such incentives work very well for a lot of people, according to basically everything I’ve ever read, ever, and also upon my own experiences.
The third good motivation to get your projects done on time is to move to a place where you will be less likely to be distracted. When I work in the studio instead of in my room, I’m far less tempted by the presence of computer devices to browse through tumblr and chat on Gmail instead of doing my projects. It also helps me get more into the mindset to work. The studio is a place specifically for work, so while I’m there, I work.
And finally, the absolute most important thing to arm yourself with in the battle against procrastination is willpower. This is something that trips up a lot of people; I’m an ongoing victim of weak willpower, and that’s why my procrastination habits continue. You have to want to do your project and get it done in good time. Convince yourself that you’ll be better off if you do. Limit your access to diversions—perhaps even move to another location to do so—and offer yourself incentive to get things done.
But most of all, remember not to push yourself too hard, either. Neither pulling an all-nighter the day you get an assignment nor pulling an all-nighter the night before an assignment is due will make you a very happy camper. Remember to eat, sleep, and set aside at least a little time to relax and wind down.