The more complicated a plan is, the easier it is for a snag to emerge.
If you’re a writer, consider how much time is spent finding the perfect writing playlist, or getting your writing snack, or the coffee you want, or checking your Twitter because you tweeted an awesome joke about Kanye and maybe Angela saw it and…
Calm down. If you’re supposed to write, write. If you’re supposed to read, read. Every addition you bring into it – music, snacks, and even basic internet access – is going to add more distractions and new avenues for your attention to leak into instead.
So: simplify. Leave your task as bland and basic as possible. Then, conquer.
If something is taking an inordinate amount of time and you’re wasting time desperately to avoid it, quit.
Just quit. If it’s something you can quit forever, do so: life is long and picking your battles is important for efficiency. If you’re stalling for hours because you’re dreading cooking that one recipe you said you’d try, screw it. You’re your own boss. Why suffer?
If it’s something you can’t quit, just quit for the day or night. Free up your time. Procrastination is sucking you dry already- you may as well make a full commitment to enjoying it.
If you’re going to be unproductive, be unproductive on your own terms. Swap out tasks when you can. If you’re just watching Netflix, watch something you’ve been meaning to see. Finally start watching The Wire– that’s productive, right? You’ve been meaning to, after all.
Call home, clean your room, take a nap if you’re sleep deprived, go shopping if you need a shirt- whatever your chore is, throw a new chore in you’d prefer as a compromise.
4. Don’t Multi Task
Productivity skyrockets in theory, but quality goes down when you spread yourself too thin. Instead of multi-tasking devote yourself to bitterly accomplishing what you need in one quick go.
Do less and do more. Simplify, and make it happen.
5. Be Realistic
If you’re procrastinating a plan that sounds overly difficult, make it easier, more accessible, and more realistic for the situation that you’re in.
For example: in theory you should clean your room, do laundry, cook dinner, and write an essay tonight. That’s not hard. But, for whatever reason, that’s just not going to happen today. But today, you need rest, and hanging out time- those can be actual needs- and your plan should reflect that.
If you need rest, schedule in rest. That’s productive! If you need to hang with friends, hang with friends. That’s productive, too! Just have a semblance of a realistic plan and idea so that you won’t fall short of an impossible plan. With an unrealistic plan, procrastination is inevitable because the plan itself is so difficult and un-fun. But a realistic plan is one you can do, and one that takes into account what you’re actually able to do.
6. Get Psyched
Care about what you’re doing and you’ll do it. If that’s too much to ask for, care about the reward. Care about something is the point: procrastination is bred from boredom, which is why panic is so important.
If you can get as psyched about responsibility as you do from last-minute desperation, procrastination will weaken.
7. Take The Long View
If all else fails, just keep it up and take the long view. Procrastination is about time, but if you have a long goal, the short term goal is less crucial.
Think about it: if you’re procrastinating an intense project, you can water it down for a smaller, longer lasting one. Slowing yourself isn’t the same as remaining fully stopped. “Barely anything” is infinitely more than “literally nothing.” Procrastinating can be wildly frustrating, but it’s that murky gravity that weighs you down as you move forward. If you stretch your goal out, losing the individual days is less important than staying focused over the long goal.
Get it? Losing a few hours to procrastination is less important if you make that up over time. If you’re a serious procrastinator, just be tenacious. Don’t quit, and inevitability will aid you.
Procrastination is the cost of progress. Do your best to cut through it, but remember that the struggle is the struggle of momentum. If you can’t beat procrastination, at the very least don’t let it beat you.