How to BEAT Procrastination

When I was at university I was the best procrastinator you could meet. I done it all; procractoclean, procrastoeat and my favorite -> Procrastonap. If you set me an assignment then you could be sure I would do anything but that until the last minute. It's laughable that I only figured out how to stop procrastinating after graduating because arguably, it's the most important place to be productive. Regardless, I want to share my advice with you so you don't end up like me - starting a 9000 word dissertation on deadline night (not my proudest moment…). Below I will list a number of software and real world methods that stopped me (and my friends) from procrastinating. 

Procrastination is the art of putting something off, so what you want to do is make it physically impossible to put it off. You want to make sure that you get to the point where you have nothing else to do apart from the task. 'Focus' is a mac app that is perfect for this. What this app does is block every website that it deems being distracting eg Facebook and Youtube. You can set what websites you want blocked and for how long but what I really like about this app is how it blocks the websites. Say you were to try and log onto Facebook when ‘focussing’, it would display a quote from an influential person. I like this because it makes you feel guilty; like this person achieved so much yet I can’t even write a 2000 word essay without logging onto Facebook.

This next method is all about your phone. I don't know about you but when-ever I was faced with an assignment title like 'Christian architecture in ancient Rome: A analysis between 200AD - 300AD', I would whip out my phone. It’s as if all of a sudden Facebook had turned on a giant magnet attracting me to my phone. What I've done to counter act this is create a ‘banned folder’ - simple right? The logic behind this is that it takes one extra step for you to find the distracting app. In that time you are thinking about what you are doing and what you should be doing. It's all about the guilt for this method and the one above.

Have you ever tried to focus but your friends will not let you? Well this step is all about the people you study with. I have broken this paragraph into 2 sections because even though friends can be a distraction, they can also help you.

  1. If someone is being a bad influence / distracting you, cut them like a cucumber! And by that I mean leave their side, not literally cut them (that would be an over-reaction).
  2. Have someone to hold you accountable. Say to a friend that 'If I have not written 2000 words by 9pm then (I don't know...) slap me’. It’s like having your own aggressive cheer leader. Maybe you’ll want to give your friend something that they will enjoy a little less but that’s your choice.

The final method is similar to how someone trains a dog. You set yourself target and when you get to said target, you get a treat. You’ll be glad to hear that calories consumed whilst studying do not count as actual calories. That’s what I tell myself anyway…
It works best with a little treat because otherwise you can get a bit carried away. For example 'I'll study for 30 minutes and then reward myself with a 45 minute episode of Grey's anatomy’. Even though Grey’s anatomy is life, it is not a productive reward. Nothing that involves consuming media is a good reward as it deviates your attention away from the task. Have something small like an M&M.

Whether you adopt one of these methods or all of them, you should see a big increase in productivity. These methods have worked so well for me that I am now at the point where I notice my colleagues procrastinate and silently judge them. As much as I would like to use the ’slap’ method on them, I think HR would have a problem with that. 

I have bared my soul about the dissertation so I want you to do the same. Comment below the biggest task you've procrastinated and what the outcome was!

Stay focused,

Mario El 

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