Procrastination or Productivity. The 2 really important Ps. We’re faced with this choice everyday. We have the choice of working or going for a movie. We have the choice of meeting for a group project or meeting a bunch of old friends. Right now, I had the choice of writing this post or playing an online multiplayer game. In every task we do, we have the option of either doing it or not (which essentially is doing it now or (indefinitely) later) and there are uncountable times when we let the weaker P get the best of us. How many times have you told yourself that you’d start work after just one more video, or one more episode, or one more hour… or one more day which just somehow becomes a week? Happened to you before? I’m sure it has. So let’s dive into this post to find out what you can do to not lose to the evil P.
1. Set realistic and time specific goals: While setting goals is very important, having realistic goals just as important. When you set a goal, make sure it’s in line with your capabilities. Each person is different. While you may be able to quickly draw up mind maps, someone else is probably good at focusing for long hours. The goals you draw up have to be achievable by you. But just because you know you can finish that chapter in one sitting and you know you have to give yourself a time limit doesn’t mean your to-do list will have an entry like finish learning twenty pages of XYZ theory in ten minutes. Having something of this sort on your list would be a plate of wasted minutes served with a cup of demotivation. Don’t do that to yourself. Be good to yourself and don’t overwhelm yourself. Only this way will studying not feel like a chore to you.
2. Reward yourself: There’s this (supposedly) motivational quote, “don’t stop until you’re proud”. Now don’t get me wrong, I love this quote. It genuinely is motivating, but it says nothing about knowing when to actually stop. It goes hand in hand with the saying that asks you to “push yourself”. That’s great. It really is. But there’s a limit. Don’t “push yourself” so hard, or set unreasonably high standards for yourself to “be proud” because it can’t always be about what you WANT to do. Sometimes, it has to be about what you HAVE to do. Now you might think that what you HAVE to do is what you WANT to do – to finish twenty pages of XYZ theory. But no, that’s not it. What you HAVE to do is what your body is asking you to do. Stop when you feel drained. Stop when your head feels like its about to explode and disintegrate into a thousand pieces. Take breaks. Divide your work time in increments of 25 minutes with breaks of 5. Don’t push yourself so hard that in the long run you’ll hate setting any goals for yourself. This point merges with another: keep enough time aside for the tasks you have to complete. Doing everything a night before it’s due – rote learning, scribbling down answers – doesn’t count as real productivity. What do you actually learn from this? Zilch. When you complete a task as per scheduled time, reward yourself. Praise yourself, give yourself a pat on the back, let out a beaming smile and maybe even get yourself a chocolate. You worked hard and you got stuff done. You deserve the appreciation.
3. Take advantage of technology: It’s 2019 and almost everything we do revolves around some sort of technological advancement. But in this specific point, I’m talking about applications. You have your phone on you every single minute of every single day, so imagine the additions you could make to your productivity levels if your phone reminds/pushes you to be efficient! Here is the list of my top 5 (FREE!) apps that help me and you should test them to see if they work for you too.
- Focus Keeper is a time management application which allows you to set limits and study in short increments of time.
- Quizlet is an app which allows you to make (or choose from existing) sets of flashcards which you can store digitally. The app also has a mode where it can quiz you or test you or help you memorise your cards – all this while you’re on the go. This is probably my favourite productivity app.
- Todoist allows you to create a to-do list on your phone. Keeping track of what you need to do & when you need to do is imperative when turning procrastination into productivity. Don’t leave yourself open to any probable excuses.
- OneNote is an app that’s been around for SO long but I hadn’t ever tried it but now that I did, I love it. It allows me to make notes and lists, add images and maintain separate ‘notebooks’ for different things, for instance, a separate notebook for Math, a separate one for English and a separate one for lime & shine.
- Calm. Well, this isn’t exactly a productivity app. It’s an app I use when I’m stressed or anxious. This meditation app plays relaxing sounds, eases your breathing and just calms your mind. A calm mind = a productive life.
4. Clear the mess: Listen to your mom. Clear up the desk. A messy desk is unlikely to have you be your most efficient self. Decluttering is very important to having a clear mind which is ready to bring out its thinking caps. Clearing the mess isn’t just about having a clean table, it’s also about freeing your mind from the unimportant details it holds. Organize your workstation. Design it and decorate it in a way that seems inviting to you. I don’t know if this is just me, but I LOVE working on a desk where the pens are arranged by color and the only thing on top of the desk is a scented candle and my laptop. When you love your working nook, you automatically love working!
5. Plan, plan, plan: Plan your month, plan your week, plan your day, plan your hour. I personally love planning out my day on paper and if you do too, then buy yourself a planner that allows you to schedule your whole day so you can have things under control. Know what to do when. Schedule time for work, for your family, for your friends, for yourself. While planning, prioritize. Do the important tasks in the first half of the day – you’re likely to do them better with a focused, fresh mind. When you start doing this everyday, it will become a routine and just like this, make more routines. Make a routine for your morning and your night. Make your bed and go for a short walk in the morning, reflect on your day and plan for the next at night. Stay organized.
Try these things out and let me know how they work for you! Comment below what other methods you like, what apps you use and how you organize your work and your life. I’d love to hear from you!