We’ve all been in this comfort zone where we tell ourselves, “I will start this tomorrow” and delay our tasks for another hour or day. By postponing tasks to a later date, we begin to lose control over time and later on, feel guilty and ashamed. A study in social psychology and experimental philosophy carried out by Dr Bernard Weiner from University of California and Dr Joshua Knobe, shows that undergraduate university students evaluated procrastination as more blameworthy and morally responsible. Although we know that procrastination will later have negative consequences, we still do it! There is no magic pill to make this go away, but here are five ways to stop procrastinating:
Weigh the consequences
The most important part is to think about the consequences of what will happen if you do not follow-up or complete the task. Though this is an unpleasant thought, it must be done in order to recognise why you need to complete this task and what will happen if you don’t complete the task. It could be that you failing to do so will result in someone else being rewarded or it will cause a great deal of anguish in the upcoming future. Put yourself in the negative consequences position and try to get a feeling of what might be if you do not complete what needs to be done. Would your future self, thank your present self?
If our minds do not get an immediate result or satisfaction, we tend to delay our tasks and this is when procrastination takes over. In a study conducted by Dr Max Bazerman and Dr Todd Rogers of Harvard university, the contributors were given the choice to have 2% of their salary put into a savings account. The majority of the contributors believe this was a great idea and were given two choices, to enrol in the saving soon as or in the near future. In this study, 30% of the participants enrolled soon as and 70% agreed to enrol in the future.
Same goes for our daily tasks, most of us carry them out as soon as possible, whereas the majority of us delay it to a future date. But why? It could be a lot to do with the element that we don’t see the reward of our task and we all love the immediate result or reward. We tend to do something right now in the present moment that will give an immediate satisfaction, but a huge consequence for the future e.g. Not choosing to save right now because you can use that money to go to any store and buy something and the results would be immediate. You have a new product voila! But the consequences will come in the future, leaving you worse off financially. The best way not to be in that position is to exercise your mind to picture how better off your future will be if you do not crave into the immediate satisfactions. Another tip to reward yourself immediately would be to tell yourself if you can get this out of the way, you can go out to see friends and socialise or treat yourself to a weekend off relaxing inside.
Break the task down
Usually, when we tend to procrastinate, it is because the tasks we have come in a big chunk and look absolutely huge and almost impossible to do. The best way to overcome and deal with this head on is to break the task into small sections. If you have a certain amount of word count essay deadline, you could always divide the words weekly e.g. setting yourself to do at least 300 words per day rather than trying to get the full amount done in a day. Break your question down into one sentence or bullet points, highlight the important keywords and create a checklist to make sure you have carried that out. Take one day at a time and know and learn about your learning styles. See how and when you work best and put that into action.
Learn to say no
We are own worst enemy sometimes, however, we are also defined by the company we keep and hang around with. There is always someone from your friend’s group who will invite you and wants to go out to eat, night out or a birthday party. A little persuasion from a friend can go a long way and tempt you to go along with the plan. But come next day, and you will regret making that decision because you have used up all that time and energy which you are not going to get back. Learn to see no and decline invites. Ask yourself, “will this be worth it tomorrow”? Before making a decision. There is no shame in telling someone no! Sometimes it is not just occasions that we are tempted into, but the places you are in. If you are working in the library with friends, then the chances are you will get tempted to take more breaks to go out and eat, smoke, get a hot drink or getting caught up in a conversation. If you know that you are going to be tempted by your friends, then it is best not to go there in the first place and say no to your friend. Go to a quiet study area in the library or stay at home or in a café, wherever you work best, but on your own without any distractions