The school day is over, you’re on your way home and you think about what needs to get done. There’s an essay that needs to be written, a packet to turn in and a test to study for. You tell yourself you’ll get it done right away, right when you get home. But, as you walk into your house you see everything that tempts your procrastination. Eventually, you give in and you’re stuck in the home of procrastination not knowing when you’ll come out.
Joseph Ferrari, a professor of psychology at DePaul University wrote “we all put tasks off, but my research has found that 20 percent of U.S. men and women are chronic procrastinators.”
Procrastination not only affects a student’s academic life, but it also affects their tasks at home and relationships.
Ferrari believes procrastination is a way of life. Research shows that in North America over 70 percent of students take part in procrastination and are “highly vulnerable to negative consequences such as poor performance, decreased subjective well-being, negative affect, and reduced life achievements.”
Trying to defeat procrastination once and for all? Use these three simple steps and get rid of it for good.
1. Get motivated
Setting deadlines and goals are a good way to spark motivation. Telling yourself that you can finish this assignment on time will help your brain get up and running. By doing this you’re also getting your body and mind in a happier state to do work and “we become more successful when we are happier and more positive,” as Shawn Achor wrote in his book “The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuels Success and Performance at Work.”
Another way to set goals is to divide and conquer by planning out the time it will take to do each assignment. Give yourself one task that is manageable and try to see if you can get it done in a reasonable amount of time, then move on.
An additional solution is to ask yourself “Why am I procrastinating?” Once you discover the issue at hand, see if you can find a solution and overcome it. Don’t give up even if it seems too hard, look for a new angle and try to find a solution.
2. Eliminate distractions
It is very easy to lose focus from the subtle vibrate on your phone or the temptations that seem like they’re waiting for you to give in. To put an end to procrastination, it is essential to put away electronics or anything that might tempt you. Taking 30 minutes to unplug can make all the difference. Jan Bruce the co-author to meQuilibrium: 14 Days to Cooler, Calmer, and Happier wrote, “you won’t believe how much you can get done when you’re not always interrupting yourself to return emails,” or in many of student’s cases, snapchats.
While trying to focus, it’s natural for other things that are unrelated to pop in your mind, but try your best to push out those thoughts and concentrate on one task at a time. If you are having a hard time, try listening to calm music to help you get in the zone.
Researchers at the University of Helsinki discovered “listening to classical music enhanced the activity of genes involved in dopamine secretion and transport, synaptic neurotransmission, learning and memory, and down-regulated the genes mediating neurodegeneration.” This means classical music intensifies gene activity which improves brain function.
3. Stay calm
Working with efficacy is not as easy as it seems; especially when you’re stressed, pressured on time, overwhelmed, or having an emotional outburst. This may make your brain feel like a million puzzle pieces scattered everywhere. Typically when people feel this way, it’s easier to just find a distraction, which will lead to procrastination. Instead of turning to things that could distract you, talk to a family member or friend to put you in an easier state of mind.
Having an energized body is also key to staying calm. Getting a decent amount of rest is important for your body, so it can function properly. Sometimes sleep has to be lost in order to get things done, but taking a 20 minute power nap is a perfect way to keep your body running. Having a body that feels energized means your body is more alert and efficient, which is the best state of mind to work in.
You can also try mediating. It is a great way to relax and control your breathing. Julie Corliss, Executive Editor of the Harvard Heart Letter, wrote about researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore who “suggest that mindful meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain.” Taking a few deep breaths can make a huge difference.
Keep in mind that procrastination will only lead you to be more stressed. Think about all the free time you’ll have after you finish your work and use it as a goal. Also, remember to award yourself if you beat procrastination! Go out for a treat or do something you enjoy after working so hard. It will make doing your work more appealing and satisfying.
– Amanda Perez
Featured Image Credit: Lillian Li