In an ideal world, we'd do everything on time every time and still have time left over to eat, sleep, travel, and play.
In the real world, we simply procrastinate…
We know we shouldn't put things off but we do it anyway. The next time you identify a good project to "do later" be sure to apply these 3 tips. They'll save you from those feelings of guilt, inefficiency, and dread that plague even the most seasoned procrastinator.
Tip 1: Enjoy It
Don't spend valuable procrastination time feeling guilty about what you're not doing. Enjoy yourself. When it comes down to the wire and you're sweating bullets to meet a deadline, you'll have lots of beautiful memories to make it all worth it.
- If you're genuinely a worry wart, create a plan for completing the task so you can relax about not getting to it right away.
- Consider doing something semi-productive like cleaning, getting organized, re-connecting with old acquaintances, eating, learning a new dance, practicing your Latin, or even completing other neglected tasks.
- Make a list of things that you did while procrastinating. You'll need this list to be able to sleep at night with a clear conscience.
Life is short. There's no point putting something off if you're going to feel guilty about it the whole time.
Tip 2: Create an Efficient System of Reminders
It will make you feel like you've at least done something toward completing the task at hand. If you're lucky, doing this will also help you get started on the task sooner rather than later.
- Step 1: Pick your favorite reminders (a good combo is using the alarm or calendar feature on your phone, the calendar in Microsoft Outlook, and snooze-able electronic sticky notes).
- Step 2: Stagger the reminders. If something is due on Friday, set the first alarm to go off seven days in advance. Set the second reminder to go off five days in advance. Set the third one to go off three days in advance.
- Step 3: Snooze all the reminders as necessary (or until you start to feel like a bum for snoozing three different reminders). Then get started on the task.
- Step 4: Continue using this system consistently until you become desensitized to all your reminders.
- Step 5: Go back to step 1 and choose a new combination of reminders.
Tip3: Once You Start, Don't Stop!
Do you know when procrastination morphs into a beastly problem? It's when we try to procrastinate twice on the same activity. Don't do it. Once you start a task, complete it. No excuses.
- Start the task with the end in mind. Decide on your stopping point and do not relent until you achieve it.
- Play motivating music. I'm too embarrassed to publicly disclose what I consider to be "motivating music" but you know yourself. Play whatever gets adrenaline revving through your veins.
- When you're done, take pride in your work. If you can't take pride in the outcome of the task, maybe it wasn't even worth the effort to begin with (in which case procrastination was a sign of good judgment on your part).
Putting things off should never be a half-butted affair. If you're going to procrastinate, go all out and use these three tips to excel at it.