Work Habits: A Recovering Procrastinator's Tips and Tricks
I am the first one to label myself the world’s worst procrastinator - my friends and family will tell you that I have work habits that would make any teacher cringe or shake their head. As a matter of fact, I’m writing this article the night before its deadline, which shows you that someone of such dallying nature doesn’t reform quite so quickly. But since making it through high school and entering the independent-study realm of higher education, I’ve been forced to pick up a few tricks to keep me on the right track and prevent me from leaving my work too late. Here are just a few of them, in hopes that they will help any fellow procrastinators take some steps in the right direction (eventually, anyway).
Lists are your friends!
List down all the tasks you need to get done, whether it be on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Having a tangible record of everything on your plate will help you keep track of it all and prevent those important to-dos from slipping your mind. These lists can come in the form of sticky notes, planner apps, physical planners, notebooks, or even just the notes app on your phone. Whatever works for you! My personal favorite is the Microsoft Office Notes Application on my computer: it gives you the option to highlight or star important points on your digital list, and even allows you to check boxes for completed tasks! Checking things off your list can feel incredibly satisfying - give it a try!
Schedule, schedule, schedule!
When you know you have a ton of work to do, try scheduling specific times for each task. This is especially helpful for weekends or free days when you don’t have the structure of class or work to divide your time for you. Giving yourself smaller deadlines throughout the day will further motivate you and ensure each task gets an appropriate amount of time to complete.
Take A Break (or Two or Three…)
Avoiding procrastination does not mean tackling all of your work in one go - that only leads to an increased amount of stress and pressure and will likely make doing the work even more unpleasant! Taking quick breaks in between tasks or assignments will allow you to reset your thoughts and clear your mind, leaving you energized and ready to tackle whatever’s next on the list. Just be careful not to go too overboard - don’t let those breaks turn into procrastination periods and prevent you from getting things done!
Planners: Bring It All Together
I love my planner - as an admitted calligraphy and stationary nerd, having an outlet for color-coding, doodles and lettering while keeping my life organized all at the same time is a dream come true! But even if you’re not so into pens and pretty letters, a planner can become a procrastinator’s best friend. It can help you combine all the tips above into one, a place where you can list your tasks and assignments, set up your day’s schedule, and factor in breaks (mine are usually spent color-coding or decorating my planner but that might just be me). Either way, a planner can be a vital tool in whipping one’s work habits into shape.
I hope these little tips help you as much as they did me! It’s important to remember that habits don’t shift overnight - it takes time and dedication to really change the way you work and study. But taking the first steps towards improving can make all the difference. From one procrastinator to another, good luck!