By Tiyani Rikhotso
For some, putting things off until the last minute rules their lives. When it’s time for chores, tidying up, assignments or other things we have to get done, we make excuses and let hours, days or even weeks pass us by until we’re sitting the night before a due date without an essay or running around trying to clean in a frenzy before mom comes home. Procrastination isn’t cool. That thrill of adrenaline that surges through your body as you try to get things done in the last minute isn’t worth the risk of not completing your tasks or the reality of how you would’ve done a much better job if you had just started it a bit earlier. If not just simply laziness, what is hidden behind procrastination is fear. We’re scared that we’ll fail if we try or the task itself is intimidating and we just put it off hoping and praying that it will go away. But unfortunately, all the things on your to-do list won’t evaporate into thin air if you act like they aren’t there. So here are a few ways to stay on track and conquer the oftentimes mountain of things you’ve got to get done.
- Make your lists realistic. It’s very tempting to draw up to-do lists that go on for what seems like kilometres. But this makes it easier for you to get scared away from doing your work. Prioritise a few things that you need to do for that day or that week and jot them down in your journal or on your phone. To-do lists aren’t for decorative purposes, but to help you navigate all the tasks you have and hold you accountable. Use the satisfaction that comes with being able to check a box or cross something out once it’s done to your advantage.
- Start small. Procrastination is often a bad habit that is a part of your daily life. And if you’ve been doing it for years or months it isn’t a habit you can shed overnight. So start with the little things. Make your bed as soon as you wake up, put the dishes away right after washing them or reply to messages/emails immediately if you can. Training your brain through not letting yourself leave the ‘little’ things to the last minute will filter down into other areas of your life and soon doing the ‘big’ things as soon as you get them will feel quite natural.
- Break your tasks up. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Approach your tasks and assignments with the same mentality. You don’t have to write an essay in one go. You can write it over a few days like so: Monday – Introduction and Branch 1, Tuesday – Branch 2 & 3, Wednesday – Conclusion and editing. This gives you the time to put 100% into each bit that you do and you’re bound to come out at the other end with a much more impressive (and relatively stress-free) essay.
- Lock yourself out of distractions on your phone. This is probably going to be the most effective since social media is perhaps the biggest distraction that can keep you away from your work. It’s so easy to scroll through Instagram for 3 hours… think about all the things you could’ve done with that time. Apps such as Flipd or Offtime (available on Android and IOS) will keep you out of your phone or certain social media apps so that you can actually get your work done.