Procrastination, putting things off, or “starting someday” is essential all the same thing. Telling yourself you will do a task sometime in the future that you may or may not actually complete. Whether it is a school assignment, self-education, or making a lifestyle change, if we dread it, we will likely put it off until another time. The only problem with that is sometimes it never gets done. Getting in shape, learning a new skill, or finishing a book, we have all said, “I will do it some other time.” Here are three of my favorite tips I have learned to help avoid procrastination and accomplish assignments and goals.
When you decide to do something, keep that promise to yourself and follow through, even when you don’t want to or circumstances make it hard. In my junior year of college I started taking workout classes that started at 7:30, meaning I had to be up at 6:45 to get ready. I thought about snoozing the alarm many times, but choose to keep that commitment to myself and go. I never once regretted going, only regretted not going. Get in the habit of keeping your word, even to yourself.
I learned this principle from Brendon Burchard, a business coach and author of High Performance Habits. In one of his podcasts, he suggests using a psychology principle to increase the chance of achieving goals and avoiding procrastination. Burchard explained that when our brains can’t see the full process, or know what step to take, we tend to avoid trying. Alternatively, if we can visualize and understand all the steps to reach the goal, we are more likely to attain the goal. Therefore it is worth the extra effort to break down each step in the process and to research anything we don’t already know. Applying this principle to both big and small goals will significantly boost productivity and reduce procrastination.
This is one of my favorite ways to put my head down and get to work, specifically when there is a lot to accomplish. Studies show that we, as humans, are not nearly as good at multitasking as we think. “Multitasking may seem efficient on the surface but may actually take more time in the end and involve more error” reports the American Psychological Association, “even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40 percent of someone’s productive time” (source).
The alternative is to work in blocks of time; 50 minutes of work and 10-15 minutes of break is ideal. The key is to limit all distractions and only focus on the tasks at hand. For me, I set a timer on my phone for 50 minutes, then place it on “Do Not Disturb” to limit all incoming calls, texts, and emails. I then sit down and complete as much work as possible in that 50-minute time frame. It allows your brain to focus on the tasks while also knowing you will get to have a 10-15 minute break afterward. I use this method all the time for both personal goals and academic assignments.
I am a student, entrepreneur, and media consultant. I am passionate about all things business, and even more passionate about helping others grow.