If you read a lot of blogs about ways to stop procrastination, as I did in preparation for writing this, you’ll find that the way many writers discuss procrastination is in terms of changing the world! The dullards seem to think that we are all trying to be Bono when really our ambitions are usually much tamer. Mostly, we just want to get that essay done, start that revision or practice that paper. In this blog I am going to outline 4 common mindsets that you should change in order to avoid procrastination. Take a look at our 4 ways to stop procrastination below:
1) Steps Vs Tasks
One common tip to help you stop procrastination is to divide your goals into smaller baby steps. This is a very good study tip but the problem with this mindset is that it imposes a linear structure on your goals; you need to complete one step before you can move on to another. While in some cases this is inevitable, for example, you can’t revise a book without having first read it , most times you will have a bunch of study tasks that can be completed in any order.
Switching emphasis from completing study in a linear fashion to doing a number of study tasks from a larger list will give you greater freedom to choose. You will no longer be able to say ‘Well, I can’t study X because I haven’t studied Y’. This is an important distinction to make when it comes to ways to avoid procrastination because as soon as you complete one study task, you are more motivated to complete others. You also don’t limit yourself into ‘having’ to do something since you will have many study options to choose from, you can pick the subject that appeals to you to study most on the day.
2) ‘All Procrastination is a waste of time’
It can be easy to label all procrastination as a waste of time but often times people do many worthwhile study tasks in order to put off doing something they don’t want to do. For example, someone may respond to their emails or read a book simply because they don’t want to do an arduous study task. No one would say that replying to emails or reading a book is waste of time, but in the context of the larger study task they become less important. The real problem here is a lack of proper prioritisation; you feel guilty reading your book because you know you should be doing something else.
To help combat this and stop procrastination, you need to get into the mindset that everything you do has its own value for you, whether it be reading, studying, watching TV or checking your Facebook; each task is relevant. What you need to sort out is your priorities. A common way of combating this is to reward doing an arduous study task with a smaller one you enjoy. Once you switch your mindset to take this into account you’ll find you feel less guilty and tackle bigger tasks first.
3) Divide tasks by how long they take to complete
The way to divide up your study tasks is by how long they take to complete. A study task shouldn’t take you any longer than a half hour; this may vary, however, from person-to-person for some it could be 15 minutes, others an hour. If you have designated yourself a study task and you know it is going to take longer than an hour then you need to break this task down further to make it manageable. Breaking tasks down into their simplest components is a great way of stop procrastination. Don’t say to yourself ‘I need to write an essay’, break it down into what it actually entails: I need to plan my essay, research my essay, write my opening paragraph, write paragraph #1, write paragraph #2, write paragraph #3, write conclusion, reference my essay etc.
There are many other aspects you could break your essay into but having a list of smaller study tasks makes them easier to complete. Having study tasks divided in such a way makes it easier for you to utilise the mindset outlined under study tip #1. For example, I’ve often found when writing an essay that the last piece I write is the opening paragraph, as such having the option to start on paragraph #1 before the opening paragraph helps me get started quicker. If I had only outlined my task as ‘write an essay’ and hadn’t broken it down based on how long it would take to complete each component I wouldn’t have the same number of options. Crucially, this approach allows you to accomplish more by doing the same amount of work. As soon as you see you are making progress your motivation will increase and your levels of procrastination will decrease.
4) Define your boundaries
Benjamin Franklin said that the best way to be productive is to split your days into one third work, one third play and one third rest. This is a pretty good rule of thumb. However, many of us chastise ourselves when we spend our time pursuing the latter two options of play and rest when we still have work to do. This is a mindset you need to change.
So long as you have accomplished a planned number of tasks then the need for guilt should dissipate; even though you may still have much more work to finish, the fact that you completed a certain amount of it today should be a cause for celebration. As such you should get into the habit of taking time to celebrate and reward yourself for your work. Studying by following this theory will help you find ways to stop procrastinating, improve your study and help you learn.
Incorporating these four different mindsets to avoid procrastination into your daily life will help stop procrastination. However, they won’t completely eradicate it as it’s important to note that a certain level of procrastination is inevitable. The challenge is recognising when you are doing it and employing strategy’s to start being productive again!
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