Procrastination, many people say, is bad. You waste time. Time which you would have been better spent finishing the project and then doing something you actually wanted to do later.
The problem is that the thing you need to be doing is boring or difficult, and that computer game/chat/origami puppet is a lot more fun. Here’s the thing: procrastination is bad, but understandable.
Most tasks that we have to do: bookkeeping, reading papers, homework, a ten page letter to a client, are boring. But how can you avoid the trap of procrastination? If your attention fades, how can you refocus?
Still, there are ways and we have listed some of the best advice here:
1. Set yourself a challenge
Set a timer and tell yourself that you have to focus on this task, and this task only for the next – whatever time you think you need. Promise yourself a reward/treat at the end. If that is too much pressure do, try easing yourself into it.
2. Make a schedule
Make a schedule in which you focus on the task for half an hour, then focus on something you enjoy for 15 minutes. Then, if that works, try to lengthen the time you focus on work with 10 minutes each week, until you can focus at-least two hours non stop. You can continue this to whatever stretch of time you want, but if you are planning to go beyond three hours in one, go take a screen break every fifteen minutes: look around the room, blink, change posture and refocus.
3. Make a list
Make a list of everything you want to do and try to get as much as possible ticked off in one day. Don’t try to get everything done in a rush, just make sure you are able to tick of at least three items each day. Place the list on your desk, so you’ll be reminded of it throughout the day. Start with the most difficult task, because that’s the one that probably started to make you procrastinate in the first place.
4. Take a walk
Take a walk instead of replacing your work with other cyberspace things that still keep you in front of a screen. Staying inside in front of a computer doesn’t help you because you are, in many ways still doing the same thing: sitting in your work space, typing at your desk. Completely clear your mind with a no TV/Cyberspace break. If you don’t want to walk meditate or read a book.
5. Hide the distractions
Clear your desktop, put all the “fun” stuff in a map and put that in another map. Make as much maps as you need to make it less tempting to go for a “quick” Twitter/Facebook break. Put your phone in your closet or a drawer, this will also free you from some temptation.
6. Stop focusing on perfecting tiny details
Write your essay or whatever it is that needs doing in a rough version first and edit it later. With the big load done, the small load seems less of a challenge.
7. Give yourself a treat
Reward yourself for every task you complete: give yourself a cookie or chocolate. You can also “bribe” yourself: promising that you can have something special if you finish your weekly tasks without getting distracted.
So remember, procrastination can easily be avoided. You just need to:
- Challenge yourself
- Clear your mind
- Avoid distractions
If you do this, not only will your tasks get done much faster, you will also find that in the end you will have more free time to spend doing the things you like.