Don’t let procrastination get in your way.
Our daily routines are made up of habits. Some of these we’ve formed consciously, like making sure to brush our teeth, while others are the result of repetition that’s become second nature, like checking our phones.
Different habits have different effects on our lives. Some are positive and help propel us forward, while others tend to hold us back. Frankly, we all have habits that we’d like to break.
Bad habits tempt us and they often get in the way of the goals we set for ourselves.
Let’s take a look at one particularly nasty habit: procrastination.
As a student, it can feel like you’re in a constant state of procrastination. Sometimes you’re just too tired to work, or you hate the work that you’re doing, or you’re halfway through a season of your favorite show on Netflix and think to yourself, “Well, I’ve come this far, What’s another 8 episodes?”
If you ever find yourself in this boat, remember that it is possible to control your habits. All it takes is a little bit of diligence, creativity and self-reflection.
When trying to break a bad habit, here are some steps to consider:
1. Identify the Problem(s)
It’s hard to fix what you can’t identify. Consider what it is your having trouble with. Be specific. While procrastination seems like an uphill battle, I’ve often found that it’s usually the result of smaller habits that slowly end up wasting my time. When these smaller issues are addressed, the procrastination becomes much more manageable.
Just declaring that you’re going to stop procrastinating is pointless. You need to delve a little deeper. For example, let’s say you often procrastinate while studying, there are a number of factors that play into this. It could be that you study with a group of friends that often go off topic, or you work on your laptop and have Facebook open in another tab, or you listen to music and spend more time moving and grooving than you do reading and writing.
The more specific you can be about the habit you want to crack, the easier it will be to do so.
2. Make a List of Small, Achievable Goals
Specificity will help with this step. Don’t be afraid to start off small. If you’re the type that leaves studying to 11pm every night, then set a simple goal for yourself. Maybe you make an effort to start at 10:55pm the next night, then 10:50pm the night after that, then 10:45pm and so on and so forth. If you try doing too much all at once, you’re more likely to get discouraged.
If you have a calendar in your room, use it to track your progress. Mark down the days that you stick with these new habits and the days that you don’t. Odds are, you will begin to see some trends in your behaviour. For example, you might notice that you have trouble keeping up with these new habits on Wednesdays. In this case, you can go back to step one and evaluate what it is that might be making Wednesdays more difficult than the other days of the week.
It’s tedious, but setting regular reminders for yourself can help relieve some of the pressure. You don’t have to rely on memory alone.
3. Use Triggers To Help Remind You Of The New Habits
Triggers don’t need to be elaborate. They’re simply a reminder of the task you need to complete. For example, keeping healthier foods in plain site, near the front of your fridge or pantry, is a good way to remind yourself to eat healthier.
Triggers can also be as simple as doing some of the prep work beforehand. For example, if your goal is to write more, but you often find yourself stumped by writer’s block, doing some prep work like pre-printing writing prompts for yourself will give you more of an incentive to write.
When it comes to procrastinating while studying, one tactic that I’ve found to be very helpful is placing my textbook on top of my laptop before I go to bed. This way, when I wake up in the morning and reach for my laptop, I’ll find my textbook instead. This seems really simple, but I’ve found that the physical act of having to move my textbook out of the way when I know that I need to study is enough for me to opt for the book instead.
Get creative with this step. There’s no right or wrong here. If you’re the type that needs to plaster their walls with colourful post-its, then go for it. Embrace what works best for you. It will take some experimenting and patience, but it will pay off.
4. Acknowledge Your Achievements
Lastly, be proud of what you’ve accomplished. Consistency is key when it comes to forming better habits. Over time, you’ll begin to reap the rewards of your hard work. Make sure these improvements don’t go unnoticed. They are, after all, the reason for all of your hard work and the main incentive for continuing to work on your new habit.
These steps helped me curb my procrastination and hopefully they can help you too. Try them out the next time you need to get something done, or the time after that, or whenever, I’m sure you’ll get around to it eventually.
*Opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Student Life Network or their partners.