4 am. Desperately trying to finish a presentation with an 8 am deadline. What makes it more annoying is that I was given ample time to do my research. I had enough time to gather all the info I needed and come up with a pretty good presentation. But I found myself in the place of procrastination, once again.
So, there I was in my sleepless night, knowing well that if I had just started when I was supposed to, I’d have avoided this last-minute rush. I would’ve slept well, woken up early, gone over the presentation again and given it my all. Thankfully, the feedback I got after the presentation was good. Still, I just knew that if I had given more time, it could have been much better.
I have a slight feeling that I am not the only one standing on this table. Procrastination is pretty common, especially for creative people. So I have decided to share a few productivity hacks for the compulsive procrastinator, that have helped me.
Do it immediately
Ignore the part of your brain that tells you that you have time. Procrastination always begins with that lie. Tell yourself otherwise, especially if you know you have a strong tendency to procrastinate. Act as if the deadline is a day or two early. Why? Because you may most likely not start immediately but at least you’ll start much earlier than your bad behaviour would have let you start on a normal day. Lol.
Have a planner or calendar
Sometimes we procrastinate because we’re overwhelmed by the magnitude of the project. Even though ideally, this is what should make us start immediately but we push it to a later date because we just can’t deal at that moment. Then the ‘moment’ goes on for longer than it should. So, breaking this ‘mountain’ down into smaller hills using a planner is helpful. The smaller tasks look more doable and before you know it, you’ve reached the top of the mountain and we all know the view is always the nicest at the top. *wink*
Try using the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro method aims to help you manage your time. If you’re easily distracted like me, you may find it useful. This technique uses a timer to break down your work into intervals of 20-25 minutes. After each block of time, you allow yourself a short break of 3-5 minutes, no longer. This is the time you give yourself to attend to your distractions, e.g. checking your phone. It is a great way to avoid procrastination. So set your timer, focus for at least 20 minutes at a stretch, enjoy your short break and get back to work. You’ll be surprised at how much you can achieve with this.
Create a personal reward system
I came across this tweet that made me laugh, it also hit a bit too close to home for me. It said:
“When you’re writing, it’s good to give yourself little rewards along the way. For example, once I’ve typed a word, I allow myself to look at the internet for four hours.”
Note the sarcasm: this is how NOT to reward yourself. While working on the project you can reward yourself with the 3-5-minute breaks as mentioned earlier. But the real reward should come at the end of the project. You could buy yourself a pair of new shoes or take yourself out to ice cream but only after you have finished the project.
The bottom line and underlying factor that will make all these points successful is discipline. Instilling a sense of discipline into your psyche. You can try all these points above, but discipline is what will make you take a 3-5-minute break instead of 4 hours. It is what will make you look at your planner and choose to finish the task for that day despite how you feel in the moment.
In the words of Author and motivational speaker Jim Rohn ‘Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment.”
Have you ever dealt with procrastination? What tips helped you overcome?