Some people are great at getting things done properly and in a timely manner. Others, like me, are prone to waiting until practically the last minute to do work, assignments, projects, etc. that were meant to be done over the course of several days or weeks. I'm the queen of doing assignments all in one sitting, over the course of like 6 hours, the night before they are due. I don't know why I put myself through that, but it's a habit I just can't break. At this point, I've accepted the fact that I'm a major procrastinator but that doesn't stop me from getting my work done well and on time, even if I submit my work at like 11:59 when it's due at midnight. So, here are 5 tips that have helped me combat procrastination numerous times:
A cluttered workspace may not bother some people but if I know I'll have cleaning to do after I finish my work, I'll procrastinate even more. When I have to really focus on an assignment, I clean up the room I'm working in before I even start my work. This way, the thought of me having to clean later doesn't lurk in my mind while I'm trying to focus and finish my work.
No matter how intricate the project, the creative process will flow much smoother if you organize the sources you're working with. If you're studying, organize the information you're studying by importance or chapter. This helps me tremendously to better my test scores because I tend to get bogged down in the material that is less important and probably won't be on the test. If you frequently work on research related projects, especially research papers, I recommend using the program Zotero. Zotero collects your sources as you find them online and organize them in whatever style you choose (MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.). Why make your work harder than it has to be? Organize beforehand so all the materials you're using don't overwhelm you.
Probably the hardest part of pushing through procrastination is limiting distractions. It seems that when I have the most work to get done, stupid things I would never spend so much time on suddenly warrant my attention. Silence your phone, it'll do you good to spend some time away from it. If you prefer background noise while working, that's fine! I'm watching Seinfeld right now as I'm writing this article. I work best when I have a certain genre of music playing or watching a familiar tv show or movie that I don't have to pay attention to. Find what works for you.
A big cup of coffee is my best friend when I have assignments to get done. Coffee helps me combat procrastination not so much because of the caffeine but most likely because it's a delightful treat that doesn't distract and gives me a boost when I'm pushing through hours of studying. If you don't like coffee, I suppose hot tea yields similar results.
This is the one in which it's easy to get carried away. Yes, take breaks. No, don't reward yourself with 15 minutes of Twitter for every 5 minutes of work. Set rewards that are better than checking your phone. For example, if I'm hungry, I'll tell myself that I can have a snack if I finish x amount of work, which may take 30 minutes. If you want to reward yourself with some down time, just set a goal to finish a good chunk of work before allowing yourself to take a break.
Basically, I really don't know how to stop procrastinating, but I do know how to work against the clock. Not to mention, the sleep you get after finally finishing an assignment you've worked all day on is priceless.