It’s Fight Procrastination Day! In school, I was the queen of procrastination. A 4.0 student in high school and honors student in college, I would wait until the last minute to write a paper that had been assigned to me weeks prior.
Although I continued to get good grades on my papers, I would swear the next one would be different. I would start as soon as I was assigned and finish it so I could enjoy my free time and not have to worry about it for weeks on end.
Despite my best efforts, I never did that. Not even when I wrote my 30 page honors thesis required to graduate from college.
I procrastinated because I knew I could without bad consequences (i.e. poor grades). That was reinforced every time I got an A on a paper I had written the night before it was due.
For some people, there’s a rush in procrastinating.
For others, they simply forget they have an assignment.
And for others still, they just don’t care what grade they receive because “C’s get degrees.”
Side note: C’s may get degrees, but if you come into the workforce with that attitude, you can expect poor performance reviews and disdain from employees who feel you’re not pulling your weight.
So I’ve told you all about how great of a procrastinator I was and why certain people procrastinate and now you’re wondering, how is this supposed to help me manage my time better?
I’m telling you to this so you can learn from my mistakes and eat your frog.
That’s right. A frog.
There’s an old saying that goes something like this:
If you had to eat a live frog every day for the rest of your life, what time of day would you eat it? Morning? Noon? Bedtime?
The best time of day to eat your frog is right when you wake up. Why? Because you’ll have accomplished your hardest task first and can enjoy the rest of your day.
Author Brian Tracy has an entire book on procrastination called “Eat That Frog!” that talks all about it.
When we procrastinate, we put a lot of extra unnecessary stress on ourselves to get the job done later. If you keep pushing projects back, you’re just making more work for yourself down the line.
So how else can you fight off procrastination? A Business Insider article from 2014 has a lot of great tips including:
Take a short walk. It seems counterproductive to stop what you’re doing and exercise. But getting up and moving can help you release energy and make you more focused when you get back to work.
Prioritize. If you have a long list of things to do, figure out which items need to be done first and do them.
Remove distractions. Turn your phone onto airplane mode, close out of Facebook or Instagram, and focus on the task at hand. And yes, there’s an app for that.
Find your peak time of day. When I was in college, I realized I needed to schedule my classes between 9 and 4. I couldn’t concentrate on anything before or after those times. I actually wouldn’t take certain classes I had wanted to take if they fell out of those time slots because I knew I couldn’t focus. So figure out when you’re most productive and tackle your tasks at that time.
Try the ‘under 10-minutes rule.’ If it’s a task that can be accomplished in under 10 minutes, do it right away so you don’t have to worry about it later.
What’s your why? Sometimes it can be difficult to start or continue with a project because you lose sight of why you’re doing it in the first place. Have a long paper to write? Remember that paper helps move you one step closer to graduating and being done with that awful class. The sooner you get it done, the sooner you’re done with the class.
Just start. Even if it’s in the middle. For me, starting is the hardest part. Especially when it came to papers. Finding the right intro always seemed like an impossible task, so I would start in the middle of the paper and write my intro at the end. It always helped me get the ball rolling and my intros were always solid because I could base it around the rest of the paper instead of the other way around.