The irony that it has taken me all day to write a blog post is not lost on me. I’m pretty awful with procrastination sometimes, I always have been – I’d be the person frantically doing homework during registration at school, or the person pulling an all-nighter at university doing an assignment that was set a month ago and due in at 8am.
However, with time I’ve gradually become a little better with it. Working in journalism, an industry that revolves around deadlines and quick turnarounds, has certainly helped. That magazine needs to go out in the first week of the month, no matter what and you cannot be the person who holds it back. So, I thought I’d share a few tips with any fellow procrastinators out there that may (or may not) help you to be more productive!
1 – Break it down
A task can sometimes appear far bigger than it actually is because you’ve spent so long avoiding it and thinking about what a chore it’ll be to do. Sit down, clear your head and break it down. For example, if it was a 1,500 word feature I would need to produce, I would break it down into the introduction, each point I needed to cover within the main copy and how I would conclude it. I realised, once bullet pointing all of the areas I needed to cover that it wouldn’t take so long after all, and I’d often actually think it was pretty easy!
2 – Get it done
Though this is easier said than done, sometimes if you just throw yourself into doing what you’ve been avoiding, you find yourself becoming immersed in it. I hate the thought of getting on the treadmill when I wake up, but when I’m actually on it, listening to good music and realising I’m working towards losing weight and getting healthy, I actually start really enjoying it. Try not to think about it too much, rid yourself of excuses and just do it!
3 – Set goals or rewards
This may not work for everyone, but it sometimes worked for me. Set yourself little – or big – goals/rewards such as allowing yourself a quick browse of Instagram once you’ve done half an hour of work or if it’s a big task, maybe allow yourself a takeaway in the evening…essays don’t seem so bad when you’ve got a pizza at the end of it all! Alternatively, set yourself time-related goals e.g. I’m going to have written 500 words within 30 minutes or I’m going to finish this by a certain time. You’ll feel great when you hit the goal and you’re in charge so if you do tweak it slightly…no one will ever know.
4 – Think of the bigger picture
Procrastinating is easy to do, but it’s also quite unfulfilling (even if you have managed to make yourself breakfast, watch your favourite TV show and upload an Instagram – true story…see below). Instead, think about how great you’ll feel once you’ve finished. It will feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulder, you’ll feel a lot calmer (guaranteed), you’ll feel a little proud of yourself, you’ll have time to do something fun or all of the fun things you wanted to procrastinate with – that you can now do guilt free!
5 – Save the stress
Think about how you feel after you procrastinate. I know that I, personally, feel more stressed, disappointed and frustrated with myself. When it comes down to rushing a task that you’ve put off for ages, you’ll wish you’d done it earlier and sooner. Don’t put additional stress and pressure on yourself and get whatever needs doing…done.
6 – Don’t miss out
A lot of the time, procrastination will make you miss out on opportunities. I’ve found this with job applications or updating my CV in the past. I’ll see the job of my dreams, but know that the cover letter/CV updating isn’t the most exciting task so I’ll put it off and before I know it, someone else has been hired. Or, I’ll complain about my figure all the time, but I’ll put off exercising. I know, in hindsight – especially when I see transformation photos on Instagram – that if I had started working out regularly (and eating right) far sooner, then I’d be much closer to the figure that I want. Basically, you snooze, you lose!
7 – Good things take time…
… So when you leave yourself two hours instead of two days to do a task, the chances are the quality of the end product won’t be half as good as if you’d spent the right amount of time on it. Utilise the time you’ve been given and do a good job of it, it’ll be far more rewarding. You’re also less likely to make careless mistakes or sacrifice high standards. Your reputation could also be tarnished if you’re known for regularly producing rushed, poor-quality work.
8 – Get organised
Getting organised has helped me the most when it comes to avoiding procrastination. I now live by lists, I fill my notepad with things I ‘must do’ each day. That’s a tip I learnt from a past ‘Get sh*t done‘ feature in Glamour magazine. Instead of writing a ‘to-do’ list, write a ‘must-do’ list, it’ll give you a sense of urgency and pressure to get the tasks done. If you think you can only realistically achieve a certain three tasks in a day, write that down rather than aiming for eight and feeling rubbish when you’ve only done four things on the list. Getting organised and writing down things you need to do in a day allows you to see how much you have to do in the time you have. Seeing that you’ve got another two large tasks to complete within the next two hours will hopefully deter you from watching yet another cat video!
I hope that’s helped! These are things I’ve learnt over years of procrastinating, and I’ll often have a think about these points when I’m contemplating procrastinating, which then makes me realise that watching reading seven other random articles/blog posts is not going to help me get a blog post done!
Thanks for reading and feel free to share this if you found that it helped you or leave any other tips in the comments too :).