If you don't think "to step away from the task you're just staring at would be productive", think again, keep reading, or keep doing you, but I'm not wrong. You could waste hours trying to force yourself to get work done without ever really getting into it or you could go do something else for a bit until you find the energy to actually work on what needs to be done. Get that thing finished faster with good energy rather than spending hours torturing yourself to get through the work. The results will probably look a lot different too.
It's not helping anyone, especially you, to force anything. Wait for that second wind. Take a step back, gather yourself, refocus, and approach the situation in a refreshed mindset. We can't always stay in "Go! Go! Go!" mode. It's good to separate from the overwhelming stress we impose on ourselves. We all choose to procrastinate and we all choose how we do it. But we don't all procrastinate productively or healthily so that it actually benefits us.
Many times procrastination appears in the form of spiraling down the abyss of streaming shows and movies until you realize it's been hours and now you're even more stressed than earlier. Although streaming media can be inspiring for some people to get their second wind or ideas to draw off, most times it is not helpful. We've all learned this the hard way, but do we change? Not usually. It's a persuasive trap I will admit.
But there are so many other options to explore when you decide to procrastinate. The first being to change your outlook on procrastination; it can be incredibly detoxifying and overall beneficial to the work that is produced afterward. On a similar note, it's also important to change your mindset about whatever task you are putting off. Normally, procrastination comes from negative energy or a negative mindset about what you're trying to do. You're not going to complete any good work while you're nagging yourself with negative thoughts about how much you hate doing whatever you're doing or constantly thinking about how much you'd rather be doing something else or feeling filled with dread and not seeing the point in your work. If you don't feel like you're doing good work or don't see the point, then whoever sees it will be able to tell. So step back from it until you can make a proper effort.
As a frequent procrastinator myself, I feel a great responsibility for helping out my fellow procrastinators who may be struggling. Whether you're struggling with second semester (even though it's only the third week...I get it. School is rough and busy work doesn't always feel necessary) or whether you're putting off tasks on your mental to-do list, there are things you can do to help you find your mojo again.
Personally, if I'm not in a productive mood or feel motivated to get certain work done, I'll either power through and feel distracted the whole time or I will come back to it later. It's worse when I procrastinate and then mentally attack myself for "wasting my time." So I've tried to change that, and here is what I do to try to be a healthier procrastinator.
Recently I have used exercise as a way to procrastinate. It's great for my physical health for getting in a workout that week and it usually puts me in a positive mindset and a productive mood. Then, when I get my work done afterward, I feel even better about myself for getting my work done and for being active!
But when I'm not in an active mood or if the weather is not worth the walk to the Rec, there are other things I do to try to find my groove again. Sometimes it's as easy as changing my location to feel more productive - going to the lounge or surrounding myself with other people that motivate me to be productive. Other times it takes physically changing how I view my task - when I'm feeling stuck writing these articles I always change the font to get a better vibe for my article. Plus it's just fun to do!
This next tip I cannot stress enough - maybe it's just me - but making a list of everything you need to do can be both beneficial or overwhelming and stressful. Put tasks big and small on it. Crossing off tasks one at a time gives yourself a little boost and motivation to keep being productive and getting things done. Now if the list becomes one of those stressful lists that look impossible to complete, start with the smaller tasks first (the ones that can be finished the quickest) that way you get more off the list faster and don't waste all your energy trying to tackle the biggest worries first and feeling like you have so much to do afterward.
Music helps too. Often listening to music while trying to work can be an easy distraction, but some days it helps me to procrastinate by changing my mood, giving me ideas, or by making me feel inspired. If it's one of those days where music with lyrics would just be a terrible idea and unhelpful, my go-to is Spotify's premade playlist Music for Concentration - it actually helps me feel more focused without having to deal with dead silence but also would be so soothing as a sleep playlist…
It could be the notion of knowing this specific task has to be done sooner or later to make me feel motivated. Make your own deadlines to help you get things done on time, but on your own time and in your own productive way. If that means staying up during your second wind, even though you would usually go to bed at that time, use the energy while you feel it! Or if you struggling to do a task during the busy week, but know you could easily do it on the weekend, wait to do it then and leave other tasks for during the week.
And my final tip for procrastinating in a healthy way is to talk to someone about whatever you're struggling with. The act of facing your productivity barriers or negative mindsets can be immensely helpful because hearing it out loud makes you reevaluate if your reaction is rational or not and if there is an obvious answer to your problem. Plus talking to someone who may also be struggling to complete a similar task can stop you from wasting time if you help motivate each other to get your work done or connect on your similar feelings. Just getting a second opinion can be all that you need to snap you back into "work mode."
In my opinion, talking about procrastination is more helpful than dwelling on it internally. We all deal with it and we can all help each other get through it (or at least enjoy it together). When I'm struggling with a task, asking a friend for advice or any ideas is one of my best options because even if their thoughts don't inspire a new work ethic in me I can start seeing the issue differently.
Procrastination doesn't have to be a negative thing in your life. You can make it healthy and productive by doing other things first and getting to That One Task later. Do what you got to do to make That Task completed more smoothly. Nothing should be done without a care in mind. Don't force the work because it won't turn out as well as what you are capable of. So procrastinate to make yourself happier and healthier as well as make your work turn out the way it should while being more enjoyable later on.