The procrastination-trap

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Despite our good intensions and against our better judgements, sometimes we all avoid doing what needs to be done.

I feel like I speak for all students when I say that homework is definitely the task we most procrastinate over. I assume that many adults in jobs still struggle with the issue of procrastination as well.

If (like me) you often fall into the procrastination-trap, here are 5 top tips to help you become more pro-active:

  1. Get your deadlines in order

It’s very easy to put off doing things if you don’t have a clear idea of what needs to be done and when by.

This term at school, I’ve made a ‘Key Deadlines Document’ outlining what I need to do, by when and what steps I need to take towards doing it e.g. ‘Debate, 9th October, read articles X, Y & Z, write and practice speech.’ I find that having this document constantly open helps me to keep my workload – especially those bigger, scarier tasks that I am often inclined to dodge doing – at the forefront of my mind.

The same approach could easily be applied to higher education or the workplace, where tasks are often much more self-led and self-motivated than those in schools.

2. Prioritise

Once you’ve got a clear vision of what you’re doing, prioritising is the next step.

Stop doing the easy task you got given today, but that isn’t in until next week, instead of writing the essay or report in for tomorrow that you’ve been putting off for the last two weeks.

Start coercing yourself into prioritising your nearest deadline – you’ll thank yourself when you no longer find yourself hurriedly scribbling 20-markers or piecing together scrambled reports the night before…

3. Find a place

Procrastination and distractions go hand in hand, and neither are man’s best friend. I often find myself getting distracted by talking to someone or going on my phone whilst I am meant to be working.

To limit this, you could try designating a place (or places) as your ‘work-zone(s).’ Personally, I go to the library to work whenever I can as I associate it, through routine, with focused work.

4. Put away your phone

Our biggest distractions are often our phones.

A few ways you can prevent yourself getting caught scrolling through Instagram or TikTok, or from switching between the BBC News and BBC Sport apps, aside from simply powering off your phone, could be, getting a study app (I use Forest – it’s great) or getting a lockable box (some of these have timers!).

5. Get into a routine

This is the easy bit; once you’ve started putting all the habits I’ve mentioned into play, a more efficient work routine should emerge.

Alongside attempting to do all of the above, I write out all the tasks I hope to accomplish each day on a big whiteboard above my desk. I also write out the longer-term tasks I need to complete by the end of the week.

If I were to recommend only one thing you could try in the hope of reducing procrastination, it would be this: writing my tasks out means I have a constant visual reminder to stay on top of my workload (and rubbing things off after you’ve done them is very satisfying).