There’s a stack of unfinished assignments sitting in front of you, and you just got done a very intense five minutes of listing everything else you had to do before total relaxation could be achieved. The pile towers higher and higher until you’re slumped in your bed with nothing done. Don’t worry though, you’ll do it tomorrow…right? We’ve all been there. It doesn’t matter how smart you are or how well you can focus. Everyone procrastinates. In fact, it took me two days to get myself working on this post. I’ve found that I am more stressed just thinking about the things than actually doing them, so often I try to avoid them all together, and I’m sure you’ve done the same. Maybe you’re even doing it right now. On the road from procrastination to fascination, I hope that the worst of tasks become at least bearable and your life is just a little bit more stress free. After taking a look at my own schedule, I tried to think about how I typically get myself and my friends out of a procrastination run. Here are a few tips:
1: Stop calling yourself a procrastinator!
If you tell yourself something enough times, chances are you will begin to believe it. A smart person may believe they are dumb, an athletic person may see themselves as out of shape. Either way, these thoughts can become rooted in their brains from constant negative thinking. Every morning before school/work/beginning your day, it might help to do affirmations. You may feel ridiculous at first, but over time you will notice that believing is becoming. Some of my favorites are…
- “I am productive and consistent with my work efforts”
- “I will achieve all that I need to, and know my limits”
- “I am capable of focus”
- “I am constantly working to become my best self”
- “I am aware of my physical and mental health, and how to take care of myself”
2: Assign deadlines for yourself
Most of the time, I find myself pushing back my work until the day before it is due. This causes a sleepless night, sloppy work, and a grumpy mood. If you’re like me, you resort to “I always get it done” as your excuse. After lots of killer headaches and not-so-hot grades, I found a solution that really helps. On my calendar, my to-do list, or as a reminder on my phone, I assign a due date for an assignment a number of days before I actually need to turn it in. For example, the teacher wants the paper in by the 18th, so I will have it done by the 15th. This way, the heavy duty work is done and you can use the extra days to edit and perfect. This system has saved me on so many occasions. It takes so much weight off the load having a couple of extra days before having to turn an assignment in.
3: Find a way to make yourself feel obligated
A strategy that has never failed me is giving myself a reason to do something. Lots of the time, telling somebody about the things I am planning to accomplish makes me feel more obligated to do it. If I have lots of homework, I will tell my mom or sister that I am going to get it done by the next day. This way, they can help me be held accountable. Recently, I’ve been very into reading. When I get into a slump, I tell myself or a friend that I will finish a certain amount of the book by the weekend. I try to stay true to my word, and having obligations makes that more likely.
4: Romanticize school work and tasks/find ways to make it fun
One of my favorite things is marking my papers or assignments with a red pen, making adjustments and notes. Not only does it improve my work, but I have fun doing it. I print out my writing and critique the hours away so that by the end, my essay is clean and I am looking forward to the next one. To get through classes I dislike, like history, I try to participate more often and get engaged with my classmates. This allows me to form bonds and find comedy in even the most boring times. With activities like chores, I love to do them when I’m home alone or with my sister. We play our favorite songs and dance around the house until the work is done. Of course, loading the dishwasher and doing laundry is not something we enjoy, but making the hours go by faster by adding in something we love really helps.
5: Keep up with your environment
For a very long time, I would leave my room messy and my bed unmade before going to school. I left bowls out and laundry undone. When it came to a point that was pushing the limits, the time that it took to clean everything up was excruciating. It did not take long for me to realize that if I never left the house with my room a mess, I wouldn’t be spending hours folding clothes over the weekend. Before school, I wake up early enough to have my bed made, and my outfits are picked out before going to sleep to avoid everything in my dresser being all over the floor in the morning when I get dressed. Everything is much easier to keep up with, and I have a nice room to come home to at the end of the day.
It is also helpful to have something worth working for. You may not be aware of it now, but keep in mind goals you would like to set or things you’d like to achieve. For school, I am always thinking about college and my desired career, and that gets me through. Of course, there are days that I spend in my bed, scrolling through social media or watching TV for hours on end. I am a firm believer that everyone deserves “lazy days”, and I have no problem giving them to myself. However, I find that there is a point at which you need to be productive and get things done. Rewarding yourself with relaxing activities can motivate you to do more overall. Set boundaries, limits, and goals and everything will find a time to work out.