Procrastination is just about the one problem just about everyone runs into at some point, even important or famous people.
For example, Bill Gates once said ” I had one habit that I developed at college, I like to show people that I didn’t do any work, and that I didn’t go to any classes, and I didn’t care. That was my positioning, the guy that did nothing till the last minute. I’m still working on it, but procrastination is not a good habit.”
To give you some interesting statistics, a study by Huffington Post shows that approximately 87% of students procrastinate on their studies. The largest culprit for most of the procrastinators were “watching movies or TV” and “using social media” at almost equal rates, for both high school school and college students in the US.
So, how does one overcome procrastination?
Here’s our 7 tips to overcome procrastination. We’d give you more, but we got distracted. Check back later (unless you forget or get busy NOT procrastinating).
1. Remove your distractions
We’ve mentioned a little earlier back that the largest culprits are social media and movies and TV for teenagers. If those are yours too, cut them out. Get your parents to move the TV out of your room, and to take away your phone for a while (yes, I heard that “noooo!”. Do it. It helps.) Your mobile phone is actually a huge source of distractions. For some other statistics, other big culprits include texting or talking on the phone, or online shopping, especially for girls.
Speaking of distractions, another one is sleeping. Now, sleeping is a tricky one. Unlike online shopping or the telly, you, for one actually need sleep. And sleep just feels so good, doesn’t it? Besides, it’s much easier to shut off the alarm and go back to bed, when you’re all drowsy and just NEED five more minutes. Here’s how to stop sleeping so much.
Stop taking afternoon naps, or keep them to a minimum, at very least. It’s a slippery slope. Once you start the nap, it’s much harder to stop than to not start in the first place. Keep them to less than two hours, ideally about an hour and half. That gives your body enough time to rest, but not enough for it to fall into a deep sleep.
2. Don’t regret past procrastination.
Let’s face it : We’ve all procrastinated to varying degrees in the past. However, if you want to stop, you have to stop dwelling on past-procrastinator you. As they say, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” Second best is still best, sort of. It’s important to try and build new, valuable habits, like watching the clock more when you’re having fun, and instilling disciplines in yourself, in small ways like leaving a place when you said you were going to (yes, that is also a form of procrastination.)
3. Give yourself finite, realistic goals
It might seem much more comfortable to have a huge goal, without any sort of deadline that’s soon. It might be something like “become a millionaire by 30, when you’re 15, and very broke. However, if you don’t set small goals, it is also much easier and more likely that you will not have become a millionaire by 30. Hence, break up your goal into small steps. In this example, break it into manageable, bite-sized steps. You don’t have to have it all planned out in one evening, but have a general timeline and the next few steps. The steps after will become obvious as you move along. At 15, the first few steps might be something like “research careers that earn me a lot of money and think about my aptitude towards them.”
4. Imagine yourself living that goal
Wouldn’t it be nice to be 30 and financially free, or more or less being able to live a comfortable life being a millionaire? Imagine yourself being able to pursue your hobbies, or not work in a cubicle, or having a “successful” life. Imagine that and all of the positive emotions that come with it, like happiness, excitement or joy.
Then, flip it around. Flip it around by imagining what you can’t do if you’re not a millionaire at 30. (In this case not being a millionaire by 30 is not a huge deal, because you can live a nice life without being a millionaire. So picture your life without enough money, for anything nice at all, then.) You’ll have to worry about living paycheck to paycheck. You can’t ever buy a new TV or computer or video game, or go shopping very much for nice things. There’s constant stress and worry, and sadness. While you probably shouldn’t scare yourself into motivation all the time, it’s a good trick that can sometimes be used, if you’ve tried other methods and they just don’t work for whatever reason it is.
5. Get someone to hold you accountable
Pick someone more responsible than you are, and who has a decent memory. This person might be a family member, or a close friend. If you’ve got homework to submit next Tuesday, and you see this person this week Saturday, for example, have them ask you “How’s your homework going? Is it finished yet? How many %?”
Get them to make you give them a concrete number, or answer, so you can’t just brush them off with a “I don’t know yet” or “I’ve been busy with other things”. You might not like this very much, but social pressure can be oddly motivating, especially when it comes to things like procrastination. You just want them to stop talking to you about homework, so you’ll move homework along and can now talk about fun things like shopping or the latest video games.
A last word..
Stopping your procrastination habit’s not easy. But the first thing to do, is quite simply start. Just start small, with a few steps at first, towards a realizable, realistic goal. Have someone keep you accountable, if possible.