We all know the importance of sticking to a schedule, and online learning has made organization more important than ever. But some of us still struggle to get everything done on time, because we tend to put off unpleasant tasks until the last minute. How can you stop procrastinating?
Recognize that you have a choice. Procrastination is often confused with laziness, but despite their similarity on the surface, these are actually two very distinct things. Laziness means apathy and an unwillingness to act – often about anything. Procrastination is a clear choice to do something more enjoyable instead of the tasks you need to complete. When you view procrastination as a choice, rather than a characteristic of yourself, you can separate yourself from the action (or in this case, inaction).
Catch yourself in the act. Now you know procrastination is a choice, but it can be difficult to recognize when you’re doing it. If you find yourself engaging in these types of activities, procrastination is probably an ingrained habit:
- Waiting until you’re “in the right mood”
- Stopping in the middle of high-priority tasks to do something trivial
- Leaving emails unanswered for days
- Filling your day with less urgent activities
- Saying “yes” to everything other people ask you to do, rather than tackling your own work
Seek to understand. Before you can change a behavior, you need to understand why you’re doing it. Do you simply not enjoy this task? Are you worried about failing? Are you worried about succeeding, and raising the bar of expectations ? Yes, that is a thing that happens!
Take action. Now that you understand yourself better, and can recognize the signs of procrastination, take action to combat it:
- Do the most unpleasant task first each day, so you’re not dreading it.
- Or, do the most difficult task first, so that the rest of the day feels easier.
- Ask someone to nag you a bit – accountability is important.
- Give yourself a time limit.
- Change your inner dialogue; you don’t “have to” do these things. You choose to.
- Get rid of distractions. Turn off your phone and stay away from screens.
Finally, if you find that you procrastinate because you’re struggling with the task itself, ask for help! A friend, parent, teacher, or someone else might see things in a new light.