The end of the semester is near and work is at it’s yearly high. With all the stress and anxiety that comes with the end of the academic year, procrastination also begins to creep up. We’ve rounded up our top procrastination tips so you can beating the dread and getting your work done. You got this – we know you do.
Do the task you’re dreading as soon as you wake up
In the case of one of our content creators, she does the tasks she is dreading before she even eats breakfast or checks her emails in the morning. This way, you’re fresh and able to tackle the project before other things get in the way or give you an excuse to put it aside.
This productivity hack may also make you feel better throughout the day, since you won’t have that nagging feeling that you’re not doing something you’re supposed to.
If you don’t want to take our word for it, Mark Twain once said: “If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
Set a hard deadline with a friend or mentor
Have you ever noticed how when you don’t have a hard deadline, even the smallest tasks become agonizing to finish? Something as simple as cleaning your kitchen can grow into a megalithic task, spreading out to take up your entire day.
If this is you, you might have fallen victim to Parkinson’s Law, a piece of advice which says that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.
In essence, if you give yourself a week to write a paper, it will take the week. If you give yourself the afternoon, somehow, you will find a way to complete the paper within the span of an afternoon.
The trick here is hard deadlines – do something to make it stick, like promise you’ll forward the paper to your friend for reading at a specific time, or have family scheduled to come over to your house for dinner after you clean the kitchen. This forces you to get the job done in that time frame.
Keep a brain dump notebook
Keep a notebook 📒 or a piece of paper on your desk for a “brain dump”, so you don’t get distracted by other thoughts or to-do lists.
Ever sit down to focus on one task, only to be distracted by the million other things you have to accomplish? 🤯 Suddenly, the two hours you have put aside to study for that test is gone, spent replying to a bunch of e-mails and writing down notes for that essay – all things that you have to do “before you forget” 🙋🏻♀️
An easy way to get around this is to keep a notebook (or open up a word doc on your computer) specifically for a “brain dump” 🧠. This is the place where you write down all of those distracting thoughts that you don’t want to forget. By writing them down in one, easily accessible place, you don’t have to worry that you will forget, and will feel less pressure to act on those thoughts right now – letting you focus on what you set out to do in the first place.
Look at cute photos 🥺🥰
We’re dead serious. A 2012 study from Hiroshima University found that looking at cute pictures might actually help people be more focused on subsequent tasks, improving their performance.
In this study, participants were shown photos of either puppies and kittens or cats and dogs 🐕🐈. They were then asked to complete a task that required fine motor dexterity. On average, participants that had viewed the puppies and kittens (the cute photos) out-performed the participants that had viewed the sweet, but not as cute images (dogs and cats).
A second study had participants look at either cute images, normal images, or images of food and then complete a visual search task. Again, the participants that had viewed the cute images out-performed the other groups.
Researchers aren’t sure why this is the case, but they believe that rush of positive emotion when you see something really, really cute might have a spillover effect that results in a form of motivation, resulting in an increase in focus.
If you’re going to spend some time looking at cute pictures in the name of…*ahem*…science, we’ve had good results searching for bumblebee butts, quokkas or harvest mice.
Use the Pomodoro Technique
Here’s how to do it: set a timer for, say, 50 minutes.
⏱ 50 min focus on *one* important task, and that one important task only. No answering emails, no browsing social media.
⏱ Take a break for 20 minutes
⏱ Then go back to work for 50 minutes.
Rinse and repeat. After 2-4 work sessions, take a longer break – about 45 minutes to an hour.
This method helps you get over the hump 🐫 of getting started (it’s only 50 minutes – you can force your way through that), and cuts down on the temptation to multitask. The frequent breaks also help your brain take a quick recharge so you’re ready to focus again 🧠