By Ricky Castillon
With online media becoming more and more compact, and attention spans across the nation shrinking at alarming rates, it can be really hard to stay focused. These days, especially for young people just starting to foray into the adult world, one of the biggest hurdles that face young professionals is the danger of procrastination. Putting off what you need to get done is a surefire way of making sure it never gets done; here are seven tips and tricks from the best in the business on how to stop procrastinating and get to work.
1. Set a timer. When you know you’ve got two papers to write, an exam to study for and a job, you’ve got to put it in gear and get going. But sometimes the sheets are just so comfy and youre genuinely so tired you cant move, so in those times it’s helpful to have a big loud alarm to go off constantly. Here’s the key: when the timer goes off, just set it back for two minutes. Okay, two more minutes… Okay, I promise these are the last two… this time, I swear…
2. Clean up your workspace. Tidy space, tidy mind. In order to get work done and live a productive life, you’ve got to de-clutter your brain and your desk. Start by taking everything off of the desk and making three piles of things you are going to keep, throw away, and put away somewhere else. This is a great way to clean up your workspace, but also the rest of your room, your closet, the downstairs bathroom… you know what? There’s just so much to do. What was I thinking? This paper will have to wait I’ve cleaned!
3. Think about it. If you’re going to do quality work, you need to put thought and effort into making it the very best you can do. This requires lots of preparation and thought. Before you begin, it helps to sit around staring blankly in the direction of your desk while you think of all the things you’d rather be doing right now. Choose a seat (preferably one that spins or has wheels) close enough to your workstation that anyone who comes into the room will feel as though they’ve interrupted something even though you’ve literally not even started. Once you do begin, pause and reflect whenever you reach a word that you think could be better or could be replaced by a synonym. Go through the list of synonyms trying them all out before continuing with your sentence. Be precious with it, after all you are just trying to make it as good as it can be.
4. Take breaks to eat. Working hard is important, but feeling good is just as crucial to a productive mind. Every now and then, when you feel like you deserve it, close the laptop and go to the kitchen for a little reward. It doesn’t have to be anything big or distracting, just a two-hour turkey sandwich and milkshake combo or two. How about that entire box of crackers at the very top of the pantry that you bought for that party but never got to, why not eat the whole box with an increasingly elaborate assortment of jams and dips while you decide which one is best. And how are you going to eat all that and not watch anything? After all, your brain needs a rest from all the exhausting work you just did, why not binge on Netflix while snacking out? I hear The Crown is so good!
5. Make a To-Do list. This is a great way of keeping organized and staying on track. Make out a list of everything you need to get through done today. Make sure you include the little things on there too so you can look at your huge list and think to yourself “Oh the agony, what a tough strenuous lives we young professionals lead”. Put a little box next to each item so you can check it or strike through it when you finish to give you an added sense of satisfaction. Post the list up on your wall or refrigerator where you can’t avoid looking at it and the rows of unchecked boxes of things you never got to, but hey, it’s only 1:34 AM! There’s still plenty of time.
6. Follow through. Whatever things you need to do or tasks you set for yourself, remember to finish what you start. Nobody likes empty promises. You can sleep when you’re dead. If you say you are going to turn something in, turn it in. If you promise to hand-paint all your Christmas cards this year because you’re crazy and have no concept of time, find time to make those cards. If you say you are going to give seven points of advice on procrastinating make sure you’ve go that many.
Procrastination is a dangerous treacherous thing like the sea, and navigating those waters can be tough. Remember, we all do it from time to time; it’s a natural defense mechanism with deeply rooted psychological tactics that are designed so that you don’t even notice they’re there. Now, isn’t there something you’re supposed to be doing?