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How to Stop Procrastinating

July 9, 2018

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, procrastinate means “to delay doing something.” This usually happens when people dread or have anxiety over the important tasks awaiting them. In order to get rid of this negative feeling, people procrastinate by doing something that is unproductive and not what they are suppose to be doing. This makes them feel better temporarily, but unfortunately, reality comes back to bite them in the end. In this post I have laid out some simple tips that have worked for me in the past, which you can try doing in order to beat your procrastination. If you have any tips you think I forgot to mention, leave them below in the comments – we are all curious to know!

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1. Change “I have to” to “I want to”.

By simply changing your outlook and trying to find the pros in everything, things won’t be as hard to do. When you say, “I have to,” it makes the task seem like a chore, something you don’t want to do but have to do. If you start saying, “I want to,” you will immediately start to think the task isn’t so bad after all. Telling yourself the job isn’t so awful makes it easier to actually start working on it.

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2. Stop aiming for perfection

I am guilty of this one myself, but have really been making a conscious effort to change my outlook. I definitely would consider myself a bit of a perfectionist. I don’t feel accomplished or like a task is fully complete until it is “perfect”. Perfectionism wants to avoid failure and perfectionists believe their ranking and how well they do on one simple task determines their worth. It’s important to change how you think of yourself so you can stop over evaluating how you did. If you must evaluate, do so by using a scale from 0-100. This way you will be using a wide range of numbers, which broadens your view of yourself so one thing won’t “ruin” you.  

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3. Change your mood by diving in, not stepping away

Individuals tend to procrastinate in order to avoid unpleasant feelings around completing a task. When approaching a task, try to find the redeeming aspects that will help you in the end. When you are looking forward to another activity after completing the task, you will be more inclined to continue doing it. Completing the very task you’re avoiding will make you feel better in the end – you’ll be relieved and filled with a sense of accomplishment.

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4. Break big tasks into smaller chunks

It can be overwhelming to think about finishing a whole essay or getting through an entire week’s worth of tasks. Instead of thinking about everything you have to do as one big obstacle, break it all down into really tiny pieces. Start with a small portion and build from there. For example, instead of thinking, “I need to finish this essay by 10PM tonight,” tell yourself, “I’m going to make a short outline, fill that in, and then look for quotes.” Working in manageable chunks will be less daunting and more inspiring.  

5. Do the hardest tasks first

Make yourself a plan in the morning of what you need to complete that day and choose to complete the hardest task first. You’ll be most energized in the morning once you’ve eaten breakfast and woken up fully. Tackle the hardest thing on your to-do list right then. You’ll feel better once it’s done, and then you can move on to a few easier tasks for the rest of the day, knowing the hardest part is out of the way.

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6. Don’t wait until the last minute

Waiting until the last minute can result in not doing your best work. You are bound to feel rushed and fatigued – never a good combination for being productive. You should think of concrete ways to improve your performance and work up to the final result bit by bit. You should also change your outlook by thinking about it in form of an “if, then” statement. For instance, if I focus harder when studying, then I will do better on the exam.   

An example of waiting until the last minute is cleaning the dishes. This is rarely a task one enjoys. Some people let dishes pile up all day only to face an overcrowded sink of plates, silverware, and pots with caked on food at just the time when you are wanting to ease into the relaxation of your evening. If you clean your dishes right after you use them, not only are they easier to clean, but you won’t be creating a tower in your sink that will be glaring at you all day as yet another thing you don’t want to do but have to do!

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7. Remove your distractions from your work area

I’m sure you’ve all heard this one before, but if everyone says it then maybe there’s something there! If you work in an area with an unlimited amount of distractions, undoubtedly you will have difficulty focusing on the task at hand. When you seat yourself in an area where there is nothing to distract you from your work, you will be left with only your work as something to do, thus you will have no other choice than to get it done. This is easier said than done because a lot of our work involves being on a computer or phone and these devices are pretty much a whirlpool for anyone. There are apps you can download that will restrict you from visiting any sights that might distract you or using your phone or computer for purposes other than work. I have listed a few below if you are interested in learning more about them.

Cold Turkey: Blocks access to a selection of websites chosen by the user. Designed primarily for students as users can schedule websites to block at certain times, which can be repeated on a weekly basis. Cost: Free

Anti Social: You choose a selection of websites you know distract you and set a time for how long you want to be blocked from them. Cost: $14.62

Freedom: Users can choose how long they want to be blocked completely from the internet, for up to eight hours. Cost: $8.50

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8. Write to do lists and set goals for yourself

Often one might procrastinate because they do not have a clear idea what exactly they need to accomplish. A simple but beneficial thing to do is create a to-do list or an agenda. This way you will be able to have everything you need to accomplish lined up right in front of you. You can plan as far ahead as you want to. I particularly like to do this because it gives me an overview and a time frame, and this helps me stay on top of my work so I’m not rushing to finish something at the last minute. It’s also a good idea to get really specific with what you need to accomplish. Instead of saying, “I need to work on the post How to Get Glowy, Radiant, and Healthy Skin for Summer,” you should say, “I need to plan out my ideas, write a rough draft, edit the post, take the photos, upload the photos, and format the post.” By using this method you will have a clear idea of what needs to be done and the best order for accomplishing your mission.

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