Throughout my entire high school career, you could hear me complaining about how I was so bad at time management. I forever seemed to be pulling all-nighters and doing last minute cramming to get stuff done.
The thing is, my time management was fine; I could plan and prioritise. Once I got stuck into my work I could smash it out and get it done. The thing that was stopping me was procrastination.
Turns out I had plenty of time. I just spent most of it doing fuck all; I’d spend my time watching Netflix or napping. I know I’m not the only one, so here’s my advice to stop procrastinating and actually get some of your work done.
1. Stop overcomplicating it
I’d tell myself I couldn’t study unless my room was spotless. I’d put off doing work that actually had a deadline in favour of vacuuming or changing my sheets or doing a massive clean out of my wardrobe. By the time I was finished I was either too tired, or it was too late to start doing any work, so I’d just chuck it on tomorrow’s to-do list.
Turns out, my room didn’t need to be immaculate for me to get my work done. All I needed was a clear desk and, if I didn’t have that, I just had to head into the dining room or the school library where things were a bit clearer to get started. Not everything needs to be perfect, so stop overcomplicating it.
2. Baby steps
Set the completion of the first step so low that getting it done requires almost no effort, this way, it’ll seem absurd to keep putting it off when it’s so damn easy just to cross that one thing off your list.
Need to start an essay? Open up a word doc and write the question. Trying to memorise your speech? Focus on getting that very first line down pat. Getting that first easy thing out of the way is good for a couple of reasons: you’ll be able to actually cross something off your list (which always feels good), once you’ve started you’ll probably realise the whole thing isn’t as difficult as you thought and you’ll start to build momentum to push you through the whole thing.
3. Stop waiting to feel like working
Much like I would always put off work in favour of making my external environment perfect, I also put it off when I just didn’t feel like it (which was all the damn time). I’d tell myself I could just wait to start later when I’d feel more motivated to get it done. Turns out motivation doesn’t work this way, and I never actually got anything done until the deadline was so close that pure adrenaline kicked in.
Motivation doesn’t come when you want it to, so get your emotions in check and start that baby step mentioned above even if you don’t feel like it.
You need to write out a massive list with all the important things that need doing. Put the hardest thing at the top (like the English essay you need to write). As a procrastinator, all you’re going to want to do is avoid that first task, because you know it’ll be tough. This is where you take advantage of your urge to avoid the number one thing to get cracking on the slightly less important, but still necessary to-dos on your list.
So, if I had to write a 2,000 word essay I’d chuck that at the top of my list. But I’d also have to put together my Bio report, and analyse a source for Ancient. Because I’m a shit person massive procrastinator, I’d put off writing the essay by doing the other things on my list.
It’s not totally foolproof- obviously my essay still didn’t get written. But I did manage to get some of the other important things done, which I’d class as a win.