How to stop procrastinating and get things done
The art of getting things done is a tough one to master. But there are ways to stop procrastinating.
Do you have a pressing task to do right now? Is that why you are avoiding it by reading this article? Maybe you have already browsed Instagram, spring cleaned your wardrobe, and sorted through every photo you have ever taken, just to avoid doing the task.
Fear not, you are not alone when it comes to the art of procrastination. According to Newton’s First Law of Motion, a body at rest will stay at rest until compelled to do otherwise. It’s not our fault – it is science.
Nearly all college students (between 80 to 95%) procrastinate on a regular basis when it comes to completing coursework and assignments, according to a 2007 study, while a survey carried out in 1997 found that procrastination was one of the top reasons why Ph.D. candidates failed to complete their dissertations.
With those odds, at least you can feel like a member of the procrastination family. You might have found this article by googling “how to stop procrastinating” and right now might be in the middle of a deep internet search, completely avoiding whatever it is that you are actually supposed to be doing. Facepalm. If you want to abandon the procrastination family and become more productive, here are some tips to follow:
Allow yourself to feel overwhelmed
Often, people put off doing tasks because the task seems so huge they don’t know where to start.
To combat that, accept that it is a big job, and try to divide it into little pieces. For example, if you want to update your CV for the first time in ten years, allow yourself to divide the job over several days.
On day one, write up the description of your current role, the next day put together your educational achievements, and so on.
Know how you work
Some people thrive under pressure. You might spend three days doing a college assignment but somehow you put together a better paper in just three hours because the adrenaline and immediate need to focus drives you forward. Figure out what suits you best and roll with it.
Remove yourself from the environment
Sometimes we just need to move ourselves away from distractions in order to get things done. Can’t stop looking at Twitter? Put your phone in a different room.
Working on your laptop on a comfy chair and feeling sleepy? Sit at the kitchen table. Recognise what is keeping you from doing the job and separate yourself from it.
Just do it
Push yourself to just get it done. Think about how good you will feel when this task is no longer hanging over you and you can read a book or watch your favourite TV show without having that sense of guilt in your stomach. Set out some time, and force yourself to just start. Starting is the hardest part, and once you get into it, it won’t be as hard to complete.
Just do it.
What are you still doing here?
This article was originally published in November 2021.