As exam season rolls around, we find ourselves surrounded by relentless distractions once again: cat memes, funny Youtube videos, entertaining Facebook conversations, you name it. Here, I’ve provided six strategies to help you avoid procrastination and get through this last horrific month of finals.
1. Break your task into smaller steps.
More often than not, we procrastinate because we subconsciously perceive the work as being too overwhelming for us. Break the tasks down into smaller tasks, and then focus your attention on a specific part. Completing small tasks will give you with a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to do more work.
2. Eliminate your distractions.
Procrastinating is made much easier if your procrastination pit-stops are easily accessible. If you spent too much time playing video games, hide your Nintendo in a location that is far away, like in a kitchen cabinet a floor away. As soon as you get the urge to distract yourself again, you’re likely be too lazy to make the trip all the way downstairs, and will reflect on your actions more.
3. Create a detailed schedule with specific deadlines.
After breaking down your work, create a comprehensive timeline with deadlines for each small task. Make sure your deadlines are concrete – that way, if you surrender to your distractions and don’t finish a task in time, it will create an urgency to act.
4. Surround yourself with productive people.
Identify the people in your circle of friends who are highly driven – most likely the hard workers and self-motivators – and work with them. Their productivity will likely motivate you too (or at least guilt you into putting in more effort to accomplish tasks).
5. Get a buddy.
Find a family member or friend who can encourage you to stay on task and help you focus when needed. If you are easily distracted by the physical presence of a friend, schedule ‘check-ins’ with your buddy; have them call/text you to see how much you have accomplished. We always work better when we know someone’s relying on us to prevent the embarrassment of vocalizing your failures.
6. Stop over-complicating tasks; get a grip and just do it.
Don’t wait for a perfect time to do a task – there is never a perfect time. If you are always looking for one, chances are you will never get anything done. Perfectionism is one of the biggest of procrastination. Stop looking for reasons to delay, instead think about all of the positive outcomes of successfully completing a task. At the end of the day, procrastination comes down to taking action. Making to-do lists, setting deadlines and getting rid of distractions are insignificant if you don’t end up getting the task done.