I am an excellent procrastinator. While I know this is not a favorable trait, I am trying my best to change my “there’s always tomorrow” attitude. The harder something is, the easier it is to procrastinate. As a writer, I have the burden (albeit self-inflicted) of feeling that I should always be writing. That pressure I put on myself results in me procrastinating even more. It is a vicious cycle and I know I’m like the hamster, spinning the cycle round and round. Here are a few ways that may help you avoid procrastinating. After all, as the idiom goes: “Do as I say, not as I do.”
1. Start your day with a healthy breakfast.
This meal sets the precedent for the day ahead. Skip it and you’ll be less attentive, less energized and less motivated to do whatever it is you need to get done. If you don’t eat, you will have given yourself an excuse to stop whatever it is you need to do because you’re hungry and as we all know, the one handed scoop method of snacking makes for several trips to the kitchen, wasting several minutes of our time. Another round of cheese doodles…another trip to wash your hands…another day goes by without finishing what needs to get done.
2. Set a timer.
Your microwave, your oven, your laptop, your Smartphone. What do they all have in common? They all have timers on them. You could even go old school and get a big-ass hourglass. It doesn’t matter how you do it, but allotting a certain amount of time to complete a task will help you stick to it. I have found that if I set a timer on my phone for an hour, I usually end up writing for longer. If an hour seems too long, start small. Even setting a timer for 15 minutes is better than not getting started at all.
3. Disable your social media.
Along with setting the timer, turning off all distractions will help you stick to the task at hand. I’ve found that disabling the Facebook and Instagram app on my phone has been useful. They are super simple to re-download once you’re done; you’d be surprised that the extra step needed to access them may be enough to get you to stop wasting time looking at them. Go into your phone settings and turn off your push-notifications. Put your phone on silent, which includes turning off vibrate. Then, put your phone out of sight. In a drawer, your bag, the toilet. As for your laptop, google online filters and site blockers and you will see there are many programs that you can use to block yourself from certain sites. That amazing article on Thought Catalog will still be waiting for you when you’re done.
4. Reward yourself.
We all need motivation. If I am working on a project with a specific deadline or on a job that has big fat paycheck attached to it, I can easily avoid procrastination. However, sometimes (often) this is not the case. In these situations, having a reward to look forward to is good motivation. Be it a mani/pedi or a donut from that new bakery down the block, tell someone else about this goal. Even better, invite a friend to join you in reaping that reward. That way, your friend will be able to hold you accountable as well as have the right to taunt you if you eat that donut otherwise.
5. Don’t get invested in a binge-worthy TV show.
With Hulu, Amazon, Netflix, On Demand and DVRs, it’s too easy to get your TV whenever you want it. If you have an addictive personality like I do, do not start a series when you have work to do. The worst types of shows are the ones that if you mention them, people immediately respond with “OMG it’s amazing.” I recently starting Game of Thrones and my productivity has gone way down. Maybe if I had the threat of getting my head chopped off like so many do on GoT, I’d be a bit more motivated. But nothing that threatening (luckily) looms over me so I find it very difficult to not hit play over and over again. Binges are unhealthy. Don’t tempt yourself.