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What is Procrastination, and Do You Have Time to Read This Right Now?

I’ve been trying to write this article for a while, but, well. I mean, I’ve had the time, but there just seems to be so much else to do. Like rearranging my books or the clothes in my wardrobe into colour order. And yesterday, I just had to plait all the tassels on my blanket and look through all my old photo albums.

Sound familiar? Procrastination is the science, no, the art of doing trivial things whilst putting off something important, like doing your homework or, ahem, writing an article. But putting things off for too long can get you into trouble. It’s much better to get on with tidying your room or revising for an exam than it is to see how many two pence coins you can balance on your nose (I managed 5 yesterday).

It can be difficult. I find that the more important the big thing I need to do is, the harder it is to start. Perhaps it’s because I’m worried about how much I’ve got to do, or about mucking it up and failing. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m actually a bit lazy.

Being a student at university, I’ve had lots of essays to write, normally two at a time, so I’ve had to learn how to put the procrastination aside and get on with whatever it is that I’m supposed to be doing. So here are some of my tip top tips on how to get on with it:

 

Make a List 

I found that a lot of the time, I was putting off starting an essay because I didn’t actually know what I was supposed to be doing. So, now I start by making a list. Do I need to read a particular book? Have I got to choose a topic or have I been given a title? How much research do I need to do? Once I’ve got the list, it’s a lot more reassuring to be able to look at it to remind myself what I need to be doing.

 

 

Set a Goal with a Reward

 

 

Some of my friends are really good at making 3-week long revision plans, with every hour planned out. Not so many of them are as good at sticking to them. I know that if I make a big long plan, I won’t stick to it, then I’ll worry that I’m not where I should be, and then I worry even more and it gets worse and worse. My new tactic is to set really small goals with a treat at the end. Things like ‘I’ll read one chapter of this book, and then I’ll have a biscuit’ or ‘I’ll write the introduction to my essay, then I’ll go and have a look out the window’. The treats only need to be small, but it really helps to just plan the next 5-30 minutes.

 

Don’t Compare with Other People

This is particularly important if it’s homework or a big project that all your friends are doing too. Everyone works in different ways, and comparing yourself to others is the quickest way to getting worried. Some people might make big detailed plans and others might start straight away but change things as they go along. Neither way is wrong, but comparing yourself with others can make you think you should be doing something else when you’ll be just fine if you carry on as you are. Be brave and have confidence in what you’re doing.

 

Now, I hope that’s helped you think about what you should be doing. On which note, I probably should go and start revising for my exam tomorrow…

 

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3 Comments

  1. 1

    I read some research recently which suggested that you are more likely to finish something that you’ve started. So the key to overcoming procrastination is to just tell yourself you will just start the task then you can have a break. Once you are doing it you are more likely to carry on.

    My yoga teacher says the same thing, he just tells himself each day that he will “go to the mat” but he doesn’t have to practise. Of course once he is at the mat he might as well do a few poses…

  2. 3

    That does make sense, I do find starting a task the hardest bit, but once I have it gets that bit easier!

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