Here’s a scenario just about everyone should be familiar with: you’re “getting ready” to “start” studying. So maybe you clean up your workspace. Maybe you make yourself something to eat now so you won’t get hungry later. Maybe just one more episode so you can really focus. We’ve all done it, and surely, we’ve all also suffered the inevitable aftermath—procrastination sucks, because it’s not even fun: while you’re procrastinating, you’re just anxious the whole time about the work you should be doing but aren’t doing, so really, just don’t do it. Get. It. Done.
Just for now, rein in that powerful imagination. Don’t let yourself daydream if you have two assignments due the next day. Plan every step, and tick off every step as you complete it. A useful way is to work backwards from your deadlines. What do you need to get done today, tomorrow, and next week in order to be ready for whatever you’re working towards? Once you’ve laid out all these parameters, you’ve charted a course, you know where you’re headed, and you know what it’ll take to get there. Since you’ve already made all the big decisions beforehand, you don’t need to stress about it when you’re in the middle of it. Just keep working steadily.
Refine your plan.
Keep your outline simple, therefore flexible, so you can accommodate any big ideas you have while working (as so often happens) or if something happens to interrupt your flow. Perhaps you got a math worksheet today and decide to make it your first priority, but then, you realize that English assignment is going to be a bigger project than you’d expected. Instead of letting yourself become spread too thin, reorganize your priorities, and remember to include a little down time. Untangle that web of assignments and modify your plan to suit changing circumstances. Plan for situations that might derail the original plan—you didn’t promise to babysit this week did you? We don’t recommend actually living by Murphy’s Law (because that can drive you mad), and you won’t be able to prepare for every eventuality, but the more foresight you use, the better.
Believe in yourself.
Trust in your own effort: if you get down on yourself, you’re not going to do well. Sometimes, if we’re nervous about doing well on something, we deliberately don’t do our best, so when we do fail, we can at least reassure ourselves by thinking, Well, at least I didn’t give it everything I had. And that’s a handy trick to play on yourself sometimes, but remember, that it’s only a trick, and in the long run will only hamstring your progress. Do your best and avoid the temptation to half-do things, and it’ll show in your work.
Satisfied? Let someone know.
Whether it’s test week or you have a ton of assignments piled up, if you follow that plan you made, you’ll feel satisfied, instead of panicked and out of sorts like if you would if you’d procrastinated. And when you’e done something well, definitely tell people about it, so they know how great you are too. Doing something well and then being praised for it causes your brain’s pleasure centers to engage, releasing dopamine, which will make you predisposed to working hard and doing well, so you can feel that pride over a job well done again. Have a look at more ideas to help you stop procrastinating.
Doing all the things we mentioned will keep you calm, focused, and confident, instead of stress-eating, tearing your hair out, and possibly crying, and you’ll feel an enormous sense of accomplishment knowing you gave it your all and saw the results to prove it.