It’s 7:30 PM. You are working on some stuff due tomorrow, 9:00 AM, and you have enough time to make it. But then a red light pops up in your mind. Yes, that other task you chose to procrastinate and had forgotten… guess when they want it done?
I know I sound like a mother, teacher, and boss, but it happens to be true: you must avoid procrastination. Had you done it when you had the time too, now you would not be facing this crisis. Some people may say that they love to work under pressure; I’d say that many of those only work when pressured enough.
Do you love tight deadlines? Good, just do stuff as soon as possible and try to beat your record every time. That’s all the pressure you’ll ever need or want.
Procrastination, it’s not a curse, hard-working people were not made like that in heaven by a whimsical god. In other words, you are only lazy if you choose to behave like that, and a hard worker as soon as you put it to work.
Yet, as in everything in life, there are some keys to combat the temptations we all have.
- Motivation. Remember why you want that thing done. Consider too how well you will feel after you have done your duty. Just like Lone Ranger or Spiderman after saving the world.
- Get organized. So you never forget a deadline again.
- Cut that frog into pieces before you eat it. Suppose you have to… er… write a novel. That’s at least 50,000 words or so. What about ten chapters of 5,000 words each. That can be like what,… ten or twelve pages? Can you write one page today? 300 to 500 words, today? Then do. When you are over do another 100 words. Hey, that’s a paragraph or two. Still more time for 50 words? Even if you write 250 words on average every day you will draft a novel in one year. (Just do the math). That beats “waiting for the right time”.
OK, I’ll be good next time, but I have to do it now
Maybe it was your fault, maybe it’s somebody else’s or nobody’s but the core of the matter you are facing multiple deadlines and your mind can’t choose what to focus on. What might you do?
- Take it as a personal challenge. Do you really know your limits? Perhaps Mr Past Failure tells you that you can’t. Prove Mr Past Failure wrong, beat your own record.
- Imitate the emergency staff, the military, the firemen, what do they have in common? Organization, automatic procedures, flexible, clear, simple rules.
- Use a 10% of your available time to organize your task. This is an investment you have to make. Make a few simple rules, and follow them.
- Simple and humble, be boring and standard, don’t try anything fancy. Get stuff done, nothing else.
- Get to work now; the sooner you begin the sooner your stress will feel easier.
- Choose one critical task and get it done. Just one. Don’t second guess. Don’t allow yourself to doubt until it’s over. Then proceed to the next. If some traitor brain cell shows doubt, kill it.
- A wandering thought creeps it? Don’t pay any attention to it. Don’t try to fight the distraction. Let it fade away, it will. If you don’t trust me, trust the monks, Zen and Catholic. Yep, they agree on that, and what do they have to do? Meditate on the supreme mysteries. They share this trick, it has to be good.
- Always define the task. It happens to many students. Facing a test, they forget to make sure you have understood the question. Well, that happens out of school too. What did your teachers tell you? Read the question well. In other words, running makes no sense until you know where you have to go.
Any more ideas on avoiding procrastination? What about working under pressure?