Procrastination is a talent, but as many know, it feels nearly impossible to break the habit. People spend so much energy trying to motivate themselves in order to prevent the never ending cycle, but it takes so much dedication and time to reshape the way one works. So at some point, the question changes from “Why can’t I start things earlier?” and “How do I motivate myself to do the work ahead of time?” to “What can I do to make my procrastination less stressful” and “How can I procrastinate while being productive and calm?” So here’s your guide to it all.
The reason most people procrastinate is not because they’re lazy, but because they can’t find the motivation to do what they need to do, or they feel overwhelmed by the list of tasks on the page in front of them. Instead, your thought process should revolve around the concept that you’re going to have to do the work at some point in time. Even if it’s at one in the morning, it is going to get done – it has to. So, why not just wait to do it? Don’t think that procrastination means laziness – apply a strategy to it, and a few minutes of work in order to achieve successful, organized procrastination. Keep a notebook or a few sheets of paper handy during the day and make a list of everything you need to do. Write down every chore, assignment, or errand you can think of, and include a little box next to it. It will serve as your planner, but more of a day to day one than a weekly or monthly one. Right next to the task itself, write when it’s due. If it’s that day at 12 am, or if it’s in two weeks, mark it. Then go through and cross off anything you’ve already done, or things that are not due within the next few days. However, be careful when it comes to larger assignments such as essays and projects. These are things that you want to start two to three days in advance. Cross off anything that is not due immediately allows you to narrow down your list and really focus on the few things that require your urgent attention. And that’s where the idea of progressive procrastination comes in. If you do this every single day, you’re going to get your work done and in on time. By initially crossing off half your list, your motivation will increase and you’ll see that you don’t have to do half of the things that were on there before. This gives you the illusion that you have less work to do, though you’re really just doing things as they become urgent.
Now, there’s a whole other part to this system. Once you’ve narrowed down your list, number them one through whatever in order of easiest and fastest, to hardest and most time consuming. This allows me a better idea of my daily schedule and makes the step faster. So basically, decide in what order you are going to accomplish the list, with the fastest ones first, saving the longer ones for later. For example, I would put defining terms before a math assignment, and the math assignment before a history worksheet. Then, let’s say, I had an essay due at eight am the next day (so, technically speaking, that day). I would knock out all of the easy assignments so that, if I do end up staying up late, I’d only be working on that one assignment, rather than stressing myself out with the rest of the list because the first thing I did was the essay.
If you find procrastination is inevitable, figuring out a way to deal with it that works for you is extremely important. In the end, it can be hard to break a habit like this, but finding ways to be more productive leads to developing new habits, resulting in success.