Our Top Tips for Fighting Procrastination and Meeting Deadlines

MOSome students seem to be super-organised – they always get their work done well before it’s due in and still have plenty of time to go out, play sports or do whatever it is they want to do.

Most of us though struggle with balancing getting our work done and doing the other things in life that are more fun. Given three weeks to complete an essay, we leave it until the last day or two before we start doing our research – and then have to spend hours in the library rushing through a mountain of work.

If this sounds like you, you’re far from being alone. Many people struggle with procrastination. It can cause you stress and make it hard to enjoy doing the things you love without worrying.

But don’t worry, there are some simple things you can do that can really help make you less of a procrastinator.

Remind yourself why it’s important

It can be really hard to feel motivated when faced with a pile of work. So, remind yourself why it matters. Why are you at university? How will doing this work help you achieve your goals in life?

Divide your work up into small chunks

Often, we put off starting a piece of work because it seems dauntingly large. So, step back and break it down into pieces you know you can manage.

Got a long essay to write? Break it down into sections. Focus on getting your research done first, then make an outline. Write the first 300 words one day, the second 300 the next, and so on.

Take a lot of breaks

If you were doing heavy manual labour, like working on a building site, you’d be stopping for a break every so often. It’s the same with mental work; your brain needs a bit of rest and recovery after some hard effort.

Some people use the Pomodoro technique. Set a timer for, say, 25 minutes, get on with your work and when the timer goes off have a five-minute break before starting another 25 minutes. Repeat this technique three or four times, then take a longer break of 15 or 20 minutes.

Set yourself a timetable

Feeling organised can be incredibly motivating, so make a list of all your tasks and deadlines and work out how you can get everything done in manageable chunks.

Be prepared and avoid distractions

When you do sit down to start a piece of work, make sure you’ve got everything you need ready. Finding out you don’t have something you need can not only be disruptive, but it can all too easily become an excuse to put off doing that work.

Put away or turn off your mobile phone and shut down any tabs that aren’t related to your work. Don’t turn them on again until you’ve done the work you set out to do.

Involve your friends

Sometimes it can really help to have someone to encourage you when you’ve got some hard work you don’t really want to do. If you’ve got a friend in the same boat, you can motivate each other.

Alternatively, if you tell a friend you’ve got a difficult project to get done, they’ll probably ask you from time to time how you’re getting on with it. The shame of having to admit you haven’t started it can sometimes be a powerful motivator.

Change your environment

Most of the time, you can probably choose where to work, whether it’s the library or your bedroom. Wherever you choose, make sure it’s somewhere conducive to work.

If your bedroom’s a mess or you’re used to socialising in it, it’s probably not going to make you feel much like working. Somewhere you only go to work is more likely to get you in the right mood. You can also tidy or reorganise your room, so it’s more like a study.

Feeling organised can be incredibly motivating, so make a list of all your tasks and deadlines and work out how you can get everything done in manageable chunks.

Set yourself goals and rewards

One of the simplest tricks is to promise yourself a reward if you get your work done. It could be a film you want to see, a concert you want to go to or a party you really don’t want to miss. Tell yourself you can only go if you get that essay handed in on time.

These are just some of the things you can try to help kick that procrastination habit. If you find one or more that work for you, you’ll discover your work stresses you out less and you can enjoy your free time without worrying.

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