Defeat Procrastination: Tips for Time Management
by John Bunyi
How many times have you said “Hmm, I don’t think I can do that right now, I’ll do it later”? Whatever “that” or “it” is, we can all say we’ve done this at least once before. For whatever reason whether we’re exhausted, afraid of an outcome, or hating the task at hand, we can’t help but put things aside for as long as we possibly can. Then when the deadline approaches we cram, panic, break down, and in some cases miss the deadline completely. We’ve all gone through it, but fortunately we can beat procrastination and it’s actually pretty easy to do.
Simplify. There’s a lot going on in our lives these days. But here’s something to think about: we can do without at least a quarter of all the things we have on our plates. That quarter (maybe more for others) is what we can label “clutter” and we really need to get rid of it. This ranges from minor unnecessary activities to ones that can really waste precious time. With all the clutter gone, we can fill that free time with more important things to do. This is an ongoing process.
Prioritize. Once we’ve gotten rid of all the clutter, you can focus on what you really need to get done. You can make a list of those things and make things easy by arranging it in a hierarchy of highest priority. And now that you can see them in front of you, life becomes so much clearer. We need to remember that while it sounds like a lot more fun to go out with our friends to catch the latest Hunger Games movie, it’s probably a lot more important to study for that big test on Monday.
Get Organized. There are plenty of things you can do to get your life in order. Finding the right tools can really help you do this. I love using a combination of Wunderlist, Evernote, and Google Calendar. A typical workflow for me is:
1) Make a to-do on Wunderlist
2) Take any other notes on Evernote
3) Add the to-do on an open space in Google Calendar (and setting a reminder to get it done)
However, everyone’s preferences are different. As long as you have a system that helps you identify what you need to have done and schedule a time to do it, you’re in good shape. Just be sure to use it.
Follow Through with things (stick to the plan as much as you can). This can be one of the hardest things to do. Not everything goes to plan, but you should stick to it as best as you can. That’s the reason I like having a to-do list AND a calendar. It may not always happen when you want it to, but things get completed. And having those things listed out for you helps keep it on your mind until you complete it. But as much as possible, stick to the plan you set out for yourself. Don’t let your planning go to waste. Have someone hold you accountable, don’t be afraid to tell your friends “No” if you have a big project due the next day, and remind yourself why you need to get that “thing” done.
Find something to motivate you. For some people, here’s how procrastination really gets beaten. Life isn’t just about working. Find something fun to motivate you to do the things you don’t want to do. If you’re having a hard time getting the “fun” stuff done, then chances are it’s not really fun. I’m a Behavior Specialist, but you don’t need the training to know that if people really want something, they’ll do just about anything to get it. As a reward for completing your taxes or getting an A on the big test, plan a nice vacation or buy yourself a new pair of shoes. You can even break big projects up into smaller ones: Instead of waiting weeks to reward yourself for spending your time studying, reward yourself with some video game time every time you finish studying 3 chapters. You’ll find that having something you’re working for helps you knock a lot of things off your to-do list and can really end all that procrastinating.
It’s important to keep consistent with things. It takes repetition to make things go smoothly. Keep the “clutter” out of your life and don’t forget your priorities. Find the tools to help you schedule the things you need done. Follow through with the goals you set, don’t waste your planning. And most important, keep yourself happy and set a light for yourself at the end of that long tunnel.
PHOTO CREDIT: John Bunyi
About John Bunyi