Overcoming procrastination

13 December 2016
13 December 2016 The Alchemy Team

Procrastination is the great stealer of time – time that could be used in so many other beneficial ways. Time that could be spent working out, pursuing a hobby, spending quality time with family and friends or chasing after a dream. Every time we procrastinate doing what we need to do, we postpone doing what we want to do.

For students, procrastination is one of the biggest hurdles they need to overcome to perform at their full potential. Here are 5 strategies I use to overcome procrastination:

1. Silence my phone

I say silence and not ‘turn off’ because I am a realist – and know that the thought of turning off a student’s phone can send shivers down the spine of even the most devoted.

Nothing will distract you and waste your time like your phone. When you are doing something tedious or boring, it is so easy to pull out your phone and scroll though your feed or open snapchat. Whilst it might only take a few seconds, there are so many attention grabbers that can suck you in to a dangerous time vortex and before you know it, half an hour has passed.

Keeping your phone on silent will not be as effective as turning it off or putting it in another room, but it will minimise the distractions of notifications and messages.

2. Optimise my workspace.

When I have to do things that require a significant amount of attention and focus, I always try to have 2 monitors connected to my computer. With just one, I am constantly weaving in between windows and apps, but 2 enables me to be more productive and avoid distractions. I also need to have a near spotless desk to work on. No papers or notes out, because I will read them as soon as my mind wanders from the task at hand.

Of course, this may not be relevant to you, but the same principal applies. Get all your books ready to go before you start studying so you aren’t getting up every 5 minutes to get something. Clean your desk daily so there aren’t a dozen things on it fighting for your attention.

3. Headphones in, distractions out.

When I need to get in the zone, I always wear headphones. It serves 2 purposes: one is that it prevents me from getting distracted by everything happening around me – and when I work from home with 2 girls under 3, there is always something happening around me! Secondly, it makes it much harder for people to disturb me. When I am in the office, wearing headphones is like an unspoken ‘do not disturb’ sign. People aren’t going to get your attention just to tell you a joke or ask about your weekend – it will either be very important or they will wait.

4. Create a reward system.

I really only use this during ultra hard times. It was a great technique during my HSC and then again amidst exams at University. Now I only use it when I am doing something super tedious like preparing my taxes or mindless data entry.

There is nothing wrong with bribing yourself. I will often set myself a goal of just doing 10 solid minutes and then rewarding myself with a walk down to the lounge room to see what is happening. Or a quick snack.

Make sure the rewards have time limits attached – don’t just let it be ‘go on Facebook’ because we all know how that can get out of hand!

5. Focus on the goal.

There should always be a goal – even if that goal is simply to get it done and out of the way. Nothing gets my 3 year old eating her dinner like the prospect of dessert – so for her, she smashes her dinner with the goal being a gummy bear or oreo.

If you have some rough homework to get through, focus on the goal – just to get it done. Because when you are done, you can go and do whatever you want.

On a larger scale, know that every hour of studying you do is shaping your future. Every dumbbell you lift is making you healthier. Every book you read is giving you an army of knowledge and wisdom about the world. Every great achievement in history has been crafted through hard work and focus.
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