Sophomore year was the worst year of my life in high school – I bit off more than I could chew and ended up in too many advanced classes with too few hours. Before that year, I was so well organized that getting behind on my work was unheard of. I would get all my work done immediately, and then proceed to nag my friends to do the same. Why? Because I had a great track record of success and was absolutely confident that I would do well on all my assignments.
Then during the Sophomore Year of Hades (SYH), getting my homework done or studying for a test took a lot longer because of all the extra material, and my confidence began to waver. I became scared of not doing well in school, and so the immediate retaliation was to avoid it. It was a whole lot easier to play a video game, watch a movie, or go shopping that it was to buckle down and face my new-found fear.
Fear – that was what pushed me toward procrastination. I wasn’t that I couldn’t handle the SYH or my classes, it was just that I didn’t want to think about what would happen if I couldn’t. This fear is the root cause of all procrastination, in fact. Is your friend’s fiance procrastinating with wedding planning? I bet you his ring he’s getting cold feet. Are you putting off starting on those MOOCs you want to finish before your new big project at work? You’re probably afraid you won’t get them done in time anyway.
No matter how organized or motivated you are, you have probably procrastinated at some point in your life. Its just a whole lot easier to binge on a new Netflix series than take notes on the week’s MOOC modules. Wanting to do something that’s immediately more fun and interesting is natural, so why not use that nature to your advantage? Try these 3 things to turn your work into fun and avoid procrastination.
1. Set deadlines and reward yourself when you meet them.
Gamification of boring stuff, anyone? Every time you finish one of those annoying-but-necessary worksheets, treat yourself to some ice cream. Or a T.V. break. Or anything else you like.
2. Come up with creative study/work tactics.
My little sister loves Quizlet – whenever she needs to memorize a lot of stuff fast, she puts everything into a Quizlet deck and races a friend to see who can get the most right. She gets to hang out with her friends and study productively at the same time. (Pssst…Quizlet is a fantastic tool!)
3. Track Your Efforts.
Finishing a task is great, but being able to look back and see how well your hard work paid off is a whole lot better. Keeping a journal or calendar to look back at also gives you a template for future projects, which will increase you confidence and therefore decrease procrastination.
So the solution is to work backwards. Procrastination comes from fear. The goal is then to figure out where the fear is coming from and nip it at its bud. In the meantime, just make the work fun and it will just keep getting itself done!