A Procrastinator’s Guide to Ending the Endless Cycle of Getting Distracted from the Productive Stuff
We’ve all been there. We’ve got lots on the To-Do List, very little time, and even less motivation. Well, I’ve definitely been there. In high school, I was the star student: a member of multiple clubs, enrolled in Advanced Placement classes, and the student with the highest GPA in the class. I was also a star procrastinator, completing essays the night before the due date and still receiving an A+!
This pattern continued when I went on to college. I was then a full time mom, a full time student, and a part time retail worker. I started caring less for perfection and began to adopt the motto: “Just turn something in!” This attitude of minimalism earned me a happy family and a B average at graduation.
And then came my professional life. Working as a teacher, I learned the best lessons about procrastination, uploading lesson plans the day before the activity and making copies minutes before the swarm of hormonal 16-year-olds hoarded my classroom door like a pack of zombies. Despite my lateness, however, I still killed the lesson with rave reviews.
And then… what was my point on all this? …Oh yeah, avoiding procrastination! Getting to work! Read on to find out the steps you can take to start being productive RIGHT NOW.
STEP ONE: KNOW YOUR TASK/ GOAL
What is it exactly that you need to do? Take some time to meditate. Think long and hard about what it is that you want to accomplish—or have to accomplish. Think about what the end goal of your work is. Once this work is finished, how will you know it is finished? Remind yourself of what it is you have to turn in, upload, or produce. Then, give yourself a deadline of when you need this work done. Once you know this information, you can start step two.
STEP TWO: KNOW THE PROCESS
Now that you know the end goal, you must spend some time thinking about how you’re going to get there. Make your own list of steps of what is going to happen throughout the process. What must you do first to get started? What task comes after the first step? Be detailed when you think about all the things you must complete. Once you understand fully what you have to do, you can move on to the steps of actually getting it done.
STEP THREE: GETTING MOTIVATED
I bet after reading through steps one and two, you got a little defeated thinking about the long work ahead. So, step three is all about getting inspired. Go to Pinterest or Google, and search for some motivational quotes. Take some time to read through these. My favorite is: “The best way to get things done is to simply begin.” (I should put that one on my wall somewhere…)
Take however long you need to find the most inspiring quote for you. Or, look at some of your friends’ favorite quotes. Seeing how other people motivate themselves may help you actually want to get your work done.
STEP FOUR: UPDATE FACEBOOK
Okay, so I know this may seem silly, but how will the world know you’re working if you don’t first give them a status update? And while you’re at it, check out the video of your high school friend getting proposed to. Give it a like—or not.
STEP FIVE: GRAB YOUR PREFERRED DRINK
Coffee, water, wine… whatever tickles your fancy. You need to stay hydrated and alert in order to do your best work.
STEP SIX: GET TO WORK
Getting things done work best in short bursts. So, spend five minutes of quick, intense working—whether it’s writing, planning, drawing, counting, or whatever. Give it your all in those five minutes. Then, give yourself a break. You deserve it!
STEP SEVEN: STRETCH YOUR MUSCLES
Take this time for yourself. Stretch whatever muscles you feel are aching after all that work you just did. Take a deep breath as you stretch your arms to the ceiling. Extend your legs and wiggle your toes. Take a walk up and down the stairs if you are starting to feel stiff. You know it’s unhealthy to sit hunched over at that computer desk all day. Once you feel relaxed and rejuvenated, get ready for step eight.
STEP EIGHT: OOH, A CUTE CAT VIDEO!
STEP NINE: BACK TO WORK
Never mind how long you wasted time watching the video of the Satan cat arch its back and walk across the floor in straight demon status (…and the video of the cat knocking random items off of its human’s kitchen counter, amongst other videos.) It’s time to get back to where you left off in step six.
Wait, what do you mean it’s dark outside? What time is it? Shoot, you have to be up in five hours! Never mind this work; go to bed! You can finish this tomorrow.