Work Smarter: 5 Ways To Stop The Vicious Cycle Of Procrastination

by Mary Rebecca Harakas

We’ve all been guilty of procrastination at one point or another. I have always had a Type A personality, yet somehow, in college, procrastination got the best of me and my GPA reflected it.

The workload wasn't too much and the difficulty wasn't too high, but in general, it's easy to find things to do that are more fun than tedious homework.

By the end of my sophomore year, I realized how tough it is to boost your GPA after a semester or two of mishaps, and I didn't want it to affect my social life.

I quickly learned that time management is essential if you want to work less and play more. The quicker you make the following procrastination solutions a habit, the more you’ll hang out with friends instead of textbooks.

Make a "to-do" list with your most pertinent tasks at the top.

I find great joy in striking out items on my list after completing them. Take a large project, or even several assignments and organize them by priority.

If you know it’ll take longer to create that PowerPoint presentation than to skim through Chapter 12 of biology, tackle the presentation first. Prioritizing your tasks helps you in the long-term because you aren’t wearing yourself down right off the bat with trivial tasks.

Set mini deadlines.

Although that term paper isn’t due for three weeks, chances are, waiting until the night before the deadline won’t get you an A. Set a deadline for your first draft, and then, restart the editing process the following week and each week after, until it’s due.

Writing is like making wine: It has to sit and ferment. So, let your writing sit (fermenting optional) and come back to it. Your professor will thank you.

Avoid distractions.

The Internet makes our lives simultaneously easier and more difficult. Yes, we have access to all types of information, but there’s something called “multiple tabs,” which can all be open at once.

Yes, you may feel like you’re doing research, but you aren’t as efficient if you have your email AND Facebook AND Pinterest AND iTunes all simultaneously open.

And, let’s not forget the other technological distraction: phones. No need to Instagram or Snapchat your stack of papers and textbooks. We all have to work, so there’s no need for community support.

Divide your time into chunks.

Diving into a huge project head-first without any sort of break will send you into mental turmoil, not to mention, make you mentally exhausted.

It’s been scientifically proven that the brain reaches a “tuning out point,” which I argue is why high school and college courses shouldn’t be longer than 45 minutes to an hour.

Set a timer or dedicate an hour or so to a project, then step back and take a break. Go outside, take a walk, grab some hot tea, call a friend... do whatever it takes to get your mind off a project. Then, get back in the game, headfirst again.

Treat yourself afterward.

Everyone loves reward. Toddlers love treats when they are potty-trained; dogs love treats when they obey commands; adults love monetary rewards, like bonuses or salary raises, when they’ve completed work well.

Give yourself a personal reward when you complete a big project and keep in mind, you cannot receive the reward until the task is complete. That beautiful Kate Spade bag? Nope, can’t purchase it until you finish the term paper.

Photo Courtesy: We Heart It