Around this time of year, life moves by quickly. Whether it’s coming out of midterms, working on essays, or scrambling to finish assignments you were supposed to complete ages ago, it’s easy to lose focus and let your mind wander. At first, it’s completely understandable, sometimes you just need to take a 5, maybe 10 minutes break from school. But when those 5 minutes turn into hours, you realize you are procrastinating, which can lead to even more procrastination, and well… you know how that ends.
How can you beat procrastination? (Or, how can you choose productivity over the joys of a couple more hours of TV, sleep, YouTube, and texting?) It all starts in your head. One of my personal favorite methods to get myself in “the zone” is mentally counting down from 5. Once I hit 0, I’m instantly inclined to start working – almost like I’m getting ready for a race. Of course, this only works if you’re able to trick your mind – if you insist on “outsmarting” the technique, you’re doing yourself no good.
Something else you might want to try is leaving your door open. It sounds strange, I know, but it all works along the lines of guilt tripping. If you work in a personal office, or in your own room, you might find that closing your door allows you to do whatever you wish with your time – often things like watching videos, or online shopping. By opening up your door, you open the floodgates of accountability – suddenly, your family is able to see everything and anything you’re doing when they happen to walk by – and the last thing you’d want is for them to catch you on Facebook. Also, opening your door and/or window allows for better air circulation – which can help you think better!
Breaking down any large task into several smaller tasks can also help to motivate you. Often, we tend to veer away from completing assignments, because they seem daunting. Maybe it’s a class project that is worth 20% of your final grade. Or maybe it’s your IA that’s due in a week (in that case, please get started!). Regardless, taking one large task, and dividing it into smaller, manageable pieces, may result in more success. This could look like completing research over 3 days, then writing a report over the next week, and editing the report the week after.
Last, but arguably the most effective, is to find a purpose. Why are you trying to accomplish the task? What’s the motive behind it?
This varies from person to person, as well as based on the scenario. Are you trying to maintain or improve your grades? Earn a spot at your dream college? Prove to your friends, family, and yourself that you’re capable of accomplishing great feats? Whatever the situation may be, digging deeper and gaining a better understanding of your reason for completing the task might just be enough to push you into working harder. Personally, I take this one step further. I like to pick a bright, bold font, and type out what I want to accomplish and the steps I’m going to take to get to my goals. Then I paste it on the wall above my workspace. Every time I feel like slacking off, one glance is enough to get me going again.
I like to pick a bright, bold font, and type out what I want to accomplish and the steps I’m going to take to get to my goals. Then I paste it on the wall above my workspace. Every time I feel like slacking off, one glance is enough to get me going again.”
Once you find your motivation and apply these tips, you’ll be sure to spark that little voice in your head telling you to go for it. Trust me, start now, and you’ll thank yourself in the future.