- Mental Health
7 Ways to Beat Procrastination and Get Stuff Done
Step One: Mindset
Maybe you're behind on prepping for a presentation and you feel like at this rate you're gonna end up looking like an ass. Or perhaps you have a test tomorrow that normally you should ace, but you just haven't put in the work - yet. Regardless of your situation... you are here now.
Take a deep breath. If you're anything like the "normal" procrastinator then you've been here before, and you've been through it. In the next 6-8 hours you have the chance to not only go through what ever situation you find yourself in, but also to develop your character by doing so. This article will provide you some tools to make the best of the time you have, but most importantly it is my hope that it will also help you avoid being in this spot again in the future.
How confident are you that today will be productive?
Hack One: Get In The Game
Use music to set the mood and keep yourself pushing through periods of low motivation. It can help to listen to a song that is simple and pleasant without being overly emotional. Here's a song a lot of people find useful. If you have a shorter piece you want to listen to then try listening to it on repeat using this tool.
If you find yourself low on energy don't pull for caffeine but try a simple breathing technique instead to get in the game. For all the good that caffeine can do most people must also suffer through the crash that follows. Breathing techniques can provide lasting increases in energy without the crash, and best of all... air is free. Here's a video of Wim Hof demonstrating my personal favourite breathing technique.
Hack Two: Throw Out The Distractions
Facebook, Reddit, Youtube, Repeat.
Facebook, Reddit, Youtube, Repeat.
Facebook, Reddit, Youtube, Repeat.
The loop of distractions churns a lofty 90% term grade into a 64% hairline pass. It turns flawless clean code into Stack Overflow soup. Don't get caught into the loop.
Now I know this is way easier said than done, and I'd be lying to you if I said I am free from it's pull. However if you do find yourself falling consider taking a short break and locking yourself from all of your favourite websites before returning back to work.
Hack Three: Don't Burn Out
All things in nature have an expansion and collapsing period. You are no different. Part of the procrastinators dilemma is that he or she must also be able to work like crazy in order to make up for lost time. This frenzy for the finish can often cause burnout and is counter productive to getting stuff done, and even if we do meet the finish line the gruelling experience leaves a sour taste in our mouth that only feeds future procrastination.
One easy hack to resist against burnout is the Pomodoro technique. To follow this hack simply break down your work into focus and rest periods. When you are in your focus period allow yourself to only put your attention towards your work and keep out all distractions. Yes, even if your phone is buzzing to alert you of the Rattata sitting atop your table. Conversely, when you are in your rest period do not allow yourself to think or return to work but use this time to relax your thoughts and prepare yourself for the next work sprint.
A commonly used and effective ratio for the Pomodoro technique is the 52:17 rule with 52 minutes of work followed by 17 minutes of rest. Try it for yourself.
Hack Four: Fuel to Win
If I can be condescending for a minute I would like to tell you the most important nutrition tip you will ever receive; drink enough water. No, soda doesn't count. We ask so much of our bodies and yet we often fail to give it the essentials it needs to think, move, and do the hard work we ask of it. Every day you want to be your best make sure to give yourself however much water your body feels best at . So if you haven't had a drink in a few hours put this article on hold and give your body the fuel it needs.
Just as your body needs water your brain needs sleep. We all know this to be true but when deadlines come looming sleep is often negotiated away for "more important things". However sleep doesn't just give us the energy to face our challenges, it is also the crucible on which everything that happened to us throughout the day is pulled together and forged into new neural networks. We study during the day, but we learn during sleep. Counter intuitively, we need sleep most when we need to sponge up a lot of material in a short period of time. If you need to make more time wake up early rather than study late.
This is probably the most important hack and yet it's one of the most difficult for people to follow day in and day out. However the basic fact of the matter is that you will only get out of your life what you put in, so if you're not happy with how life's been treating you... put more in!
Hack Five: Reverse Engineer Success
Often time we put so much attention on what we are doing we forget to look at how we are doing it. Just a little bit of thinking in this area goes a long way. So the next time you take on a task write down what you want to accomplish briefly before you begin. Once you have your task broken down use the chunking technique from hack six for even greater productivity.
Writing an Essay?
Studying for Math?
Doing Practise Exams.
Hack Six: Memorize Using Chunking
A lot of the time what holds us back is confusion on where to begin. When life is throwing you a blur of punches it's hard to know how to roll with the strikes and still live your purpose. If you find yourself in this corner consider chunking your tasks into these categories as a way to promote intelligent action. Start first by making a short to-do list of the items you think you aught to get done in the coming day or week, then ask your self if the tasks are important and/or urgent.
Any task that aligns with your life purpose and is in tune with your values. This could be anything from exercising your body or showing up at an event for a friend.
Anything with a deadline that is about to expire and needs your attention. Examples could be renewing your driving your licence or preparing for a presentation.
Once you've identified each of the tasks on your lists use the diagram bellow as a tool to make the most intelligent use of your efforts.
Hack Seven: Learn By Teaching
I started my research for this article because I struggle with procrastination every day. Teaching others is the quickest way to discover what you truly understand about a subject, and what you don't. For starters I know I struggle with procrastination on little things; getting out of bed, sitting down to write this article, or even for reaching out to a friend for help. Worse still I struggle with the big things; choosing a career path, getting my health in order, or getting rid of terrible relationships that are a drain on my life. You may relate to some of these struggles your self. Understanding what you don't know is the first step to growth.
So can you find a friend, a sibling, or anyone else that may need you as a mentor? Starting a relationship as a mentor may be the very thing that will change your path to self mastery.