I have always been guilty of being a hardcore procrastinator. All throughout high school, I would wait until the last minute (and by last minute I definitely mean 12 hours before assignments were due) to start 10-page papers or huge projects that should have taken months to complete well. My time in college has forced me to quit this awful habit to remain sane and capable of functioning, and now that I’m doing business work on top of school work, I’ve had to kick my years-long procrastination habits to the curb in order to produce my best work without transforming into a ball of stress every single day.
Whenever I tell people that I am a full-time college student, involved in extracurricular activities for school, and balance two jobs, one of which is work from home, they would never guess that procrastination and I have a long-standing relationship. I’ve come to find many practices that help me stay on top of my work and able to still relax and enjoy some free time at the end of every day. No one likes to feel like they are constantly working or worrying about tasks that need to be done; the feeling of the impending doom of deadlines hanging over our heads is simply not ideal. But if you take action to ensure that your to-do lists are completed in a timely manner, you can create much more breathing space for yourself and increase your productivity. Here are some useful action steps to take to stop giving into your procrastinating ways:
- Know yourself
Figuring out when, where, and how you work best is key to doing any work, whether it be in an office space or especially at home.When: I’ve always been a morning person, and I’ve learned that my peak productivity hours are between 8am and 3pm. Whenever I sit down to make my task lists for the day or the upcoming week, I always make sure to put the most time consuming or work-heavy tasks at the beginning of the day because I know that my energy and focus levels are at their sharpest during the early time slots of the day.Where: Ask yourself where you can do the most work for the longest amount of time without getting distracted. I highly recommend being in a room with natural light and no television; the light keeps me feeling awake and work-ready and the lack of a television keeps me completely focused on the task at hand. How: there are many different formulas for increasing productivity. We’ve previously talked about the Pomodoro method on the blog before, and many people swear by it! I personally don’t find this method to entirely work for my “start and don’t stop until you’re finished” working brain, but I still weave its principles into my routine. I like to use prioritized lists. I figure out which tasks are the highest of my priorities for the day, estimate about how much time I can complete those tasks in, and try to knock those out within that time frame. Once I complete a task, I’ll get up and walk around or maybe take a brain break and watch a YouTube video. The key is to get rid of all distractions during the time blocks that you’ve scheduled to work and take short breaks. Productivity without rest and breaks is just workaholism and will be the bane of every worker’s existence.
- Eliminate Distractions
Many people tell me that they couldn’t work from home because they’d be prone to want to do housework and chores rather than focusing on business. I’ve learned that if I intentionally plan out when to do my housework, then it’s easier for me to commit to work during the time that I’ve allotted for it. The same rule applies for social media and entertainment – setting aside the time in your daily schedule to take breaks and fuel back up will help you stay on task when you need to be on task, and fully resting when you need to rest.
- Be Nike: JUST DO IT
A common habit of procrastinators is to push off their daunting tasks by doing non-important, menial ones instead. The solution: tackle the hardest task first. Think about how free your headspace will be and how great you will feel once the dragon has been slain. It will make the rest of your day and tasks fly by smoother and faster.
My mother still doesn’t believe me when I tell her that I’ve broken (mostly) free from my procrastinating ways. It’s been a learning journey, but it has reaped the most beneficial results. I am a firm believer in working hard and resting hard, but if procrastination is taking away from reaching your full, working hard potential, then you can’t fully rest hard either. The balance can’t exist when procrastination is the overbearing giant in your work life, and there’s no better time to knock it down than right now.