Procrastination is the productivity killer affecting up to 70% of college students, and according to research by Dr. Joseph Ferrari, 1 in 5 of adults. It’s far easier to concentrate on reorganizing bookshelves or scrolling through social media than tackling an essay or masses of coursework.
Statistics show that the number of people who confess to procrastinating has increased by 200% since the 1980s. A huge reason for this is technological advances, giving us access to unlimited distractions at our fingertips on the internet or our phones.
But when a deadline is fast approaching, not only does procrastination cause stress and anxiety, but it also means you might rush and not turn in your best work. If you’re reading this because you just can’t concentrate on the task at hand, you’re in the right place. In just two minutes, read these three techniques you can use right now to get your work started!
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Put your phone away
Or better, switch it off. Mobile phones constantly demand our attention; message groups constantly pinging, game notifications with updates or special offers, or social media updates begging you to scroll through your feed. If you’re simply not comfortable switching it off, turn off notifications for everything you don’t need immediate access to, or switch to ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode. Right now, you have more important things to do!
Make a checklist can help you get organized
Our brains do not enjoy taking on large and lengthy tasks. They prefer smaller, more specific goals, according to Edwin Locke’s goal-setting theory. Make a checklist of all the specific elements or paragraphs you will need to complete – if you’re concentrating on one smaller, more attainable goal, your brain is much less likely to go into panic mode and find something easier to do. For example, instead of ‘complete my essay’, break this up into: ‘Write the introduction’, ‘Write paragraph one’. etc. Making this a physical list that you can check off as you go will not only keep you on track but give your brain a reward for each section completed and keep you motivated.
Stop procrastinating, take Regular breaks
This might initially sound counterproductive, but allowing yourself regular breaks gives you a reward to work for. Set yourself a timer and work solidly for 20 minutes, then take a timed five-minute break. Rinse and repeat until you’ve achieved your goal! The five minutes works as the reward, but a break also allows you to re-focus for the next 20 minutes. You might want to adjust the timings; maybe you would work better with shorter but more frequent breaks – it’s all about what works for you. If you don’t trust yourself using your phone as a timer, you can use a clock or an egg timer from the kitchen, or ask a friend or family member to time for you.
Procrastination affects most of us, usually at the worst possible time. Overcoming procrastination will get you most of the way, and the rest is simple. Put on your best motivational playlist, make yourself a tea, get your head down and try these techniques right now, and knock this essay out of the park!can
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