How to Combat Procrastination like a Professional

Written by Kathleen Dow

I am going to write a great lede to this column. Eventually. It will be awesome, I promise. In the meantime, I perused People magazine fordetails on Heidi and Seal’s separation, Googled funny cat videos, cleaned all of my makeup brushes, and finally ended my night watching repeats of CSI: Miami.

Why was I doing all of these meaningless things in place of the urgent tasks I needed to complete? Because I, like many of you probably, suffer from the procrastination epidemic. Ok so maybe it’s not really a sickness but according to Psychology Today 20 percent of people are true procrastinators, who “consistently avoid tasks and deliberately look for distractions.”

While we may defend procrastinating by qualifying that we ‘work better under pressure’ there comes a point when it is difficult to complete important tasks with accuracy, if at all. With February just around the corner, you may have already lost hope on those New Year’s resolutions, but there is hope for fixing this and avoiding falling into the procrastination pit.

Here are some tips on how to manage procrastination and complete important tasks efficiently:

Eating the elephant. Having trouble finishing that huge research paper or long ‘21st learning project’? Split it into small chunks and schedule time to work on each part, so you’re less overwhelmed. It is easier to motivate yourself to complete large tasks in smaller sections, while waiting until the last minute can make you anxious and may affect the quality of your work.

Before I got to writing tip two I found myself spending a mindless hour watching Meghan Dooley attempt a Britney Spears song on Just Dance 2.

Organize. Make use of your student planner. You remember that maroon spiral from way back at registration? Yea, that one. Write down and prioritize all the things you need to get done, and cross them off as you go. Believe me, it’s exhilarating to shrink down the ‘to do’ list and relieve all of that built up stress.

Reward yourself. Think of this as the grown up version of the gold star process from elementary school. Make deals with yourself like an hour of studying for that math test equals an hour to watch all those shows that have accumulated on your TiVo. It took me almost two days to finish tip three as I spent my time online shopping for spring break attire.

Listen to some music. While this might sound more distracting than anything, certain music can definitely spark creativity in the brain. Start by making a homeworkplaylist that works for you. If you’re anything like me, there is nothing more inhibiting to productivity then dead silence, so jazz up the atmosphere with music to ensure you get your work done.

Secure a study spot. With lap tops it is so easy to try to work on that paper or project from the couch, but doing somight make you too comfortable to do your work. Instead opt for a spot that facilitates your study habits and motivates you. Whether it be Starbucks, the library, or at the kitchen table find a spot where you can focus on finishing those important tasks.

Enlist a friend. Preferably, a studious, responsible friend. I always find that I am more productive around my best friend, Annie. She is my academic role model, a rare breed of high school student who always seems to have her homework done ahead of time. Find that friend or even just a classmate and arrange a time to study or work with them on homework. The saying “misery loves company” definitely fits here. It is much easier to complete those looming tasks when you are with someone else in the same boat.

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