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Procrastination, we’re all guilty of it, whether you’re scrolling through LinkedIn to delay tackling that tricky work email, have decided to take up latte art to avoid writing your dissertation or are doing anything under the sun to put off your graduate job hunt for a couple more days. Whatever form of procrastination is your vice, it’s a common human behaviour most of us do. While in the moment it can feel nice to put off a task for a later date, there’s an inevitable feeling of guilt and stress that comes with procrastinating.
Whilst looking at the odd meme here and there isn’t going to dramatically impact your life (we’ve got some great #humpday memes), continually delaying tasks can be damaging to achieving your career and life goals. Here are a few tips for how to avoid procrastination and laziness to ensure you’re achieving all you want to.
Find out exactly how to implement these steps below, and take our quiz to find out what kind of procrastinator you are!
The first step to overcoming procrastination is knowing which of your tasks are most important to achieve first. Write a to-do list of everything you want to achieve in a day and label all the most pressing tasks with a ‘1’, the second most pressing tasks a ‘2’, and so on. Organising your tasks this way, helps highlight what’s most urgent to complete first and show you what to prioritise. If you often find yourself overwhelmed and panicking that you have so much to do, that you end up not doing any of it, this technique will allow you to stay calm and get started with a task.
Procrastination psychology studies have concluded that one of the main reasons we procrastinate is because the task at hand seems too daunting. Setting yourself tasks that are impossible to achieve in the time frame you’ve set yourself, for example, “I want to apply to 50 jobs by lunch”, is likely to increase the chances you’ll procrastinate, as it’s a highly ambitious goal. Instead, make your goals as attainable and realistic as possible, think about what you know you can actually achieve in the time you have, and divide the workload for a task into manageable time segments.
Making a task you want to achieve as manageable as possible is the best way to focus without panicking that you won’t finish it, and ultimately result in you spending a few hours scrolling through food videos on Instagram.
Have a think about what it is that’s distracting you and taking time away from your tasks, is it a specific app, the environment you’re working in, or you’re having one too many tea and biscuit breaks? Think about how you can reduce the time you’re spending on these distractions, whether it’s moving to an environment where you’ll be your most productive, scheduling tea breaks for a certain time, or turning your phone off and putting it out of sight. Hold is a great ‘stop procrastinating app’, that allows you to collect points the longer you spend off your phone, these points can be exchanged for rewards including cinema tickets and food vouchers!
Taking breaks is one of the top strategies for overcoming procrastination, it’s important to take time away from whatever you’re working on and let yourself have some time doing the things that you enjoy, whether it’s 15 minutes on your phone every two hours of work completed or chatting to friends. By designating some time to do some of the activities you may procrastinate with, it will reduce your want to do them during your work time. Whilst if you’re in full-time employment your breaks are often set, it’s still important to do something in your break that takes your mind off work and will allow you to return with a fresh perspective.
Another great way for how to avoid procrastination when studying and working is rewarding yourself for your achievements. Using incentives, no matter how small or big, allows you to gain motivation and stay focused, for example saying to yourself, “if I complete this project I’ll buy that new pair of shoes”, or “if I work on my assignment for three hours I’ll watch an episode of my new series”.
It’s important to think about why you’re procrastinating. If it’s a mundane task that you’re putting off simply because it’s not the most exciting, it’s a given, however, if you find yourself repeatedly procrastinating from your university assignments, it may be a sign that you need to take some action and perhaps change course. University career services can be a great resource for course advice, find out how to make the most of your university career service here. Or, if you constantly have job search procrastination, have a think about why this is, perhaps you’re searching for graduate jobs that you thought you were interested in, but now you’re unsure. Take our career quiz, to find out what graduate job you’re best suited to.
If you’re suffering with job search anxiety and are unsure where to start with your graduate job hunt, Give A Grad A Go offer a personalised job match service, aiding your graduate job applications every step of the way, get in touch and kick-start your graduate job search.
Whatever the reasons behind your procrastination, it’s important to stop and think about the reasons you are putting off a task and take relevant action.
Implement our top tips to overcome procrastination and be as productive as possible in your work or studies. Before you put our tips into action, why not procrastinate a little bit more, and take our procrastinate quiz to find our what type of procrastinator you are!