The dangers of procrastination have been thoroughly outlined in the popular consciousness by now. But despite all the warnings and tips that have circulated both online and offline, why do we still have a hard time focusing on getting the job done?
Now more than ever, younger generations entering the job market are becoming more adept at multi-tasking. While ideally, millennials are supposed to be able to handle their time better because of this, it actually burns them out faster and creates a generation of professional procrastinators. This starts as early as an individual’s academic career, which is often crucial in determining your character at work.
If you’re a college student who needs to beat procrastination and get their work ethic together, here are five scientifically proven life hacks to help boost your grades:
1. Take Frequent Breaks
It may sound ironic, but the logic behind taking a break every now and then is to avoid getting distracted for long periods of time. Remember when you said you were going to reward yourself with a break after an hour of working on your paper? How long did it take you to get back to your work after that?
While eliminating all sources of distraction works for some, doing this can actually result in bingeing your break times and defeating the purpose of a consistent work flow.
Certain apps and techniques to help develop this helpful tip into a sustainable habit. Here are a few of the tricks to get you started:
The pomodoro technique was initially developed in the 90s by Francesco Cirillo. Pomodoro promotes timed intervals between work and breaks. This is best done by setting a timer between each of these periods and make sure you follow them. This helps boost productivity and maintain stamina.
Is it possible to have an app that will stop you from checking other apps? The short answer is yes. In fact, it seems like there are already plenty of these inventions ready for downloading. Offtime is one of those apps. It helps regulate your social media consumption and filters important communications so you stay focused and won’t lose sight of your goal. Offtime is available for iOS and Android.
2. Cultivate Positive Vibes
Developing a mind set to beat procrastination not only involves actions, but also finding the right head space to make productivity into a habit. Aside from dragging your academic performance down, chronic procrastination may lead to serious health conditions in the long-term, such as anxiety.
Nip this bad habit in the bud by surrounding yourself with affirmative and positive things. There are a few things you can do to inspire you towards success:
There are plenty of health benefits that argue for meditation. Among them is being able to clear your mind of unnecessary clutter and worries that will distract you from your real goal. It also develops a form of self-awareness that helps strengthen mental stamina. Get in the right head space with a few breathing exercises and meditative techniques. At least 10 minutes a day is sure to improve focus.
Get Positive Energy from Others
Just like having a positive role model to look up to helps inspire you to do better in school, surrounding yourself with people who are set on their goals also motivates you to do better. Individuals who encourage a healthy type of competition, as well as warranted peer support, are more likely to be friends with like-minded people. So if you want to get into the right mind set, find your flock today!
3. Keep Going
Plenty of procrastinators are also perfectionists. Because they can’t find the right inspiration or the right moment to create perfect output, they simply just won’t do it. This is extremely detrimental for two reasons: first, it builds up your work load, and second, it doesn’t guarantee perfect output anyway. The second one can especially be a source of frustration and discouragement for any college student, and even working adults.
Instead of aiming for flawless output, why not start early, wok consistently but conscientiously, and leave room for revision? It might sound easier said than done, but there’s one sure fire way you can get a head start:
Create an outline
Outlines are not only great for structure, they’re useful in giving you an idea of how your basic ideas and arguments flow into each other. This is especially handy when you’re writing a paper. But it’s equally helpful in other aspects of your academic career, like presentations, and even exam reviewers.
These structured arguments are great for giving you a general direction of where you need to go, while still leaving room to fill in the details later on. Start with a main thesis statement, and then develop each sub-point from there.
Keep track of where you left off
Consistent progress doesn’t mean finishing everything in one sitting. While some people find an undisturbed flow more suitable for their work ethic, some of us might prefer leaving some work for tomorrow. To avoid feeling lost when you decide to pick up a project you left in progress, keep track of where you left off.
In addition to keeping an outline, make sure you have a clear idea of where to start again. Review your previous work and keep in mind a few handy key words to help you ease back into your previous backlog.
4. Be Patient
As we said earlier, one of the main causes of procrastination is perfectionism. Wanting our output to be perfect right away sometimes paralyzes us and prevents us from getting anything done at all. Aside from that, there’s also the impatience to get everything done on the spot. You could say impatience is the close cousin of perfectionism and multi-tasking. All of them are related through the ill effects of procrastination.
The only way to move past that and actually produce something is to be patient with your progress. Don’t rush into things, and don’t forget to stay organized. Here are few ways to avoid panicking into procrastination:
Set a Daily Limit
Organizing your tasks for the day ahead from most to least priority is one way to get the job done. Apps like Trello even organize and compartmentalize your to-do list for you. But setting a daily limit will also help appease you of any anxiety. Know when you’ve reached your quota, and when to take a break. It also assures you that you’ve moved forward for the day, and will encourage you to keep going in finishing your task.
Plan a Schedule
If you’re not a fan of planning, college is the best time to start. In fact, you will inevitably have to plan most of your tasks because activities and deadlines often get mixed up and will tend to overwhelm you. Keeping a schedule is a tried and tested way of staying on top of your requirements without compromising rest.
Instead of making it a long-term schedule, try making one schedule per day alongside your checklist so you really get something done daily.
5. Reset Your Mindset
The biggest root cause of procrastination is not so much the external distractions – social media, apps, or even extracurricular activities – but yourself. Having a defeatist mindset can make finishing a difficult task even more challenging. Always try to reframe your thinking into an affirmative statement, like, “I can finish this task tonight!” instead of saying, “This is too difficult for me to handle.”
Even if you don’t feel this way, a positive affirmation can go a long way, and can later even convince you that you are capable of taking on the task at hand. To practice positive affirmations, try out some of these habits:
This doesn’t mean you have to spoil yourself too much. Just know where to give credit where it is due. After every finished output or big accomplishment, allow yourself to unwind. Give yourself a pat on the back or watch a fun movie. This is different from taking breaks since you will give this time to yourself only after you’ve reached a specific milestone. Take note that rewarding oneself is also tied with goal-setting.
Look at Your Long-Term Goal
You might not want to finish the project because it feels irrelevant to you right now, but if you think about your long-term goals, you’ll realize that it all factors in the end. To avoid feeling disheartened and lost when you’re stuck in the mental block, inspire yourself by looking forward. Draft up a few long-term goals and see how what you’re doing now will eventually add up to them.
The Takeaway: Get Your Game Up
Beating procrastination isn’t just a one-step process. It takes a lot of time, effort, and patience to really get it right. Avoid burnout by taking frequent breaks and rewarding yourself after every major achievement. Give positive reinforcement in your work by surrounding yourself with positive people and realistic goals. Set a timer, a schedule, and clear objectives to keep you focused on the right track and boost your college grades.