Did you make a new year's resolution? Did you start it? Did you already “fail” at it?
January is a difficult time to start a new project or kick an old habit - it’s cold, post-holiday recovery, and pressure for a “fresh start” - but none the less we try.
Procrastinating is more than not wanting to do something. It’s anxiety about failing, it’s being overwhelmed by a task you can’t see the end of, it’s not being able to make a decision. It’s spending your time and energy on trivial things when you could be putting meaningful time into meaningful work that will make you feel accomplished.
And the truth is the only way to stop procrastinating is to start doing.
1. Don’t Work Against Yourself
No one knows how we work best but ourselves...Now some say "I work best under pressure" but that's proven to be unrealistic. Procrastinating until the last 2 hours before a final is due isn't "working best under pressure" it's being forced to get your shit together at the last minute or you're going to fail this class.
But actually knowing how, where, and when you work best is important. And it's best not to fight that.
If you get the most energy in the evening, then why are you spending all morning trying to work when you're groggy? Then by the time you feel you can actually work you're upset because you got nothing done trying to force yourself to be productive all day.
Since most are working from home, we now have some privilege and flexibility to make our own schedule and work environment. Instead of procrastinating in an ill-suited workspace and time, choose to work more effectively where and when you are at peak performance levels.
2. Make a To-Do List
Seriously this is proven to help.
Make a to-do list of everything you need to accomplish for a particular project or a particular day. Even add simple things like taking a break for lunch or sending an email. Breaking everything down into small more manageable tasks allows you to visualize and organize what needs to be done.
From there you can easily manage tasks, prioritize, and stay focused on making progress. With every item crossed off, you are visually guiding yourself to your goal. Self-motivation is difficult but a reward of ripping up a to-do list once you are finished is something worth working towards.
3. Lofi Hip Hop Beats to relax/study to
That's it that's the advice.
But for real. You know when you're working and you pause for a moment to think, and within a second your phone is in your hand scrolling through Twitter? This is much less likely to happen if you fill those briefs gaps in consciousness with lofi hip hop beats.
4. Don’t Get Caught Up In Aesthetics
Social media will have you thinking you need a whole aesthetic floating on a cloud routine before working. Put on your designer loungewear, 30 minutes of meditation, make a $20 herbal tea, before sitting down to your fairy light desk to release your thoughts into a bullet journal you made yourself with scrap paper and watercolor pencils, then finally you can get to work.
Now, this is great if you can do it.
This uber aesthetic lifestyle is disproportionately marketed towards women under the pretense of self-care. However, this isn't always true; getting caught up in these additional aesthetic tasks can be draining, unmotivating, pull your focus away from work, or simply make you feel like you aren't good enough.
Accomplishing your work efficiently and effectively is what's important. It's not always the most flattering. It can look like sitting in an old t-shirt in your messy living room eating takeout food, and that's okay.
5. Manage Time with Tasks
Remember that to-do list? Take a look at it and figure out what the most difficult or most time-consuming tasks are.
Remember how we said don't fight against yourself? Figure out if you work best accomplishing easy short tasks first, leaving the most difficult for last or vise versa. Figure out if you work best dividing the difficult task into 15-minute intervals or powering through.
It's been proven taking 10-minute breaks every 50 minutes is beneficial. Give yourself short-term deadlines to start and stop working for the day. Know which tasks need to be prioritized first and ones that can be pushed to tomorrow. Have a clear plan of action.
The hardest part of anything is starting especially for us procrastinators but understanding where to start and how to keep going will make it much easier.
6. Work Your Way to the Big Picture
It's not easy beating procrastination. Self-discipline and self-motivation can be extremely difficult, but know that each small piece will put together a bigger picture.
The bigger picture can feel overwhelming, not knowing how to create it. But have patience and don't give up and fall into self-doubt when you slip up. Figure out what works best for you and make that to-do list of small steps that will lead you to a finished product.
So for us procrastinators maybe February is a good time to get our shit together and start those 2021 resolutions?