Procrastination. We all know this familiar word, and a lot of us do it quite a lot, especially when it comes to time to revise for exams or do homework. It is too easy to procrastinate and find something that seems more important than what you are meant to be doing, when in reality it probably isn't. So, why do we procrastinate and how do we stop it?
According to professors in two of the top universities, the main reasons for procrastination are a lack of structure, for example checking social media and emails when you are meant to be working, having unpleasant or boring tasks that you don't want to do, or fear of failure.
Over the past few weeks as it is getting closer to my mock exams, I have caught myself procrastinating more and more over my revision because I find it hard to focus on tasks as I get bored easily, so I have been trying different strategies to try and stop myself. Here are some of the things I tried and how they worked for me:
1. Remove all distractions from the room you are working in. This one was the hardest for me, but it was also the most helpful. Sake your phone out of the room, and possibly give it to a trustworthy person to look after so that you aren't tempted to use it until you have finished what you are doing if you need your phone for what you are doing, you can get an app that blocks certain apps for a specific amount of time, so that you can't use those apps. This strategy was definitely the best way for me to stop procrastinating, and I have found that I now feel less attached to my phone now, which is always a positive.
2. Try not to be a perfectionist. What I mean by this is don't wait for the “perfect” time to come along to start what you are doing. Start as soon as you get it because then you can make improvements as time goes on, but don't try to make it “perfect” because you are putting off finishing your task. This one was easier to do, but I still ended up procrastinating, but not as much.
3. Motivate yourself. Prepare something fun to do for if you do a task. For example, if you finish an essay, go to the cinema. If you do that chore you really don't like doing, buy yourself something you really want. I found this one worked really well, but it did start getting expensive, so this works best if you either have a lot of money or do something really cheap per each reward and make sure that you think that what you buy will be worth it in the future.
4. Take a break. I know this sounds weird, but sometimes if you can't focus, it is best to take a short break, maybe go for a walk and then come back to it later. This is one that helps quite a lot, but isn't good for last minute projects as it can take some time to get focused again.
5. Think about what the consequences will be if you don't do the work. Sometimes the only way to motivate yourself is through fear, and by sometimes it works out that the consequences are worse than the work itself. I found this one also works quite well, especially with revision.
Of course there are a lot more tip that you can use, but these are just a few that worked the best for me. I hope these help you and if you need more tips, don't hesitate to ask someone. Good luck!
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The articles here are written by guest writers or previous TWE members.