“I’ll do it in five minutes.”
“Just two more minutes and then I’ll get up.”
“Well it’s 6:02 and the day is about to end, I guess I’ll start tomorrow only.”
This is what Shreya said to herself whenever she was about to sit down to study. The moment there was anything that needed to be done, it always happened at the very last minute. Be it studying, getting ready to go outside, or getting up to close the door. “Two minutes more on Instagram, then I’ll do it.” Those two minutes never ended. She always ended up being stressed about the deadline and doing a sloppy job, unable to give her best.
If you have caught yourself making excuses to postpone your work, you are caught in the cycle of procrastination. Procrastinating is nothing but a pressure-building machine that makes you stressed about the work you’ll have to do in the last hour. It is not healthy to let the pressure build-up. Multiple studies have proven that individuals, especially students who procrastinate are at an increased risk of having high-stress levels as compared to those who don’t. Procrastination leads to high levels of stress at the workplace, deterioration in one’s mental health, and low life satisfaction is reported.
Here are some strategies you can use to become efficient:
Don’t stress yourself by procrastinating
Now that you have spent your time procrastinating do not waste time further by blaming yourself. Rather than thinking about what would have happened if you had started your work ten minutes ago, start working and make the ten minutes that you have now count. Lost time cannot be bought back but the present can be used wisely.
Just work for 15 minutes
OK, you do not want to work right now, don’t. Just work for 15 minutes now and then take the well-deserved break you want. Tricking your brain into working for just 15 minutes rather than on the whole project at once can help you get started. Once you have seen the work and started a little, you will be motivated to do more and not procrastinate.
Set goals and reward yourself
Don’t let the deadline be the motivating factor in your life. Break down your work into smaller chunks and after completion of each part, reward yourself. This could be a chocolate, an episode of Friends, or a short nap. You choose your reward for the effort and work that you put in.
Ask your friends to help
If you find yourself not being able to give up procrastination, have a friend hold you accountable for your progress. Ensure that they are someone who will check in on you and be strict if you start to miss your deadlines. In case you both have a similar schedule, tie up your work progress with them.
Provide yourself incentives to stay on task
Whenever you feel like giving up work and putting it off for some time later, bribe yourself with food, gifts, relaxing time, or anything that would motivate you to stay on task. It does not have to be big, it could be as small as five minutes on Instagram.
It’s okay if you miss one task in the schedule: Make a schedule for all the work you need to do that day. It is the best thing if you could complete all of them on time. In case you miss the time frame for a task, leave it and start working on the next one. Don’t worry about it, you’ll find time to do it later.
Remember the best way to deal with procrastination is to find the inner motivation to guide you rather than relying on deadlines. Rather than letting your stress levels shoot up to the sky and negatively affect your mental health, find what motivates you. Use it to incentivise yourself into working.
Procrastination can lead to stress and anxiety. Get yourself assessed if you feel anxious or stressed. You should also seek therapy if you feel that because of procrastination you are being unproductive, and starting to feel worthless, anxious, or stressed.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.