‘Never do today what you can do tomorrow (Procrastination)
If I do too much it’ll only end in sorrow (Procrastination)
I’d have done it all by now but there’s something in the way (Procrastination)
I’ll consult a horoscope just to pick the perfect day (Procrastination)
(‘Procrastination’ The Damned – 2018)
Most of us will procrastinate occasionally: –
‘I can’t do this essay yet. I don’t have the right books.’
‘I feel a bit tired this afternoon. I’ll start it in the morning.’
‘I don’t need to learn this topic yet. I’ll wait for the test deadline, then revise. I work better under pressure.’
About 20% of the population are regular procrastinators. Research suggests that these individuals often suffer from low levels of confidence; they worry that they are not up to the task, won’t be able to complete the work and will look foolish. Procrastination gives them the perfect excuse as they can claim they simply didn’t have enough time to do the job properly or to their usual high standards.
The solution to procrastination requires a re-framing of attitude and an acceptance that a ‘good enough’ performance is preferable to a perfect performance that is never quite completed.
‘Forget your perfect offering, there is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.’
Leonard Cohen – ‘Anthem.’ 1992.
Steps to take to avoid procrastination.
- Try to work first thing in the morning and tell yourself that you’ll have time for other tasks and activities later in the day.
- Clear your workspace of things that might distract you: the dirty washing that suddenly calls out to be put in the machine, the pots of pencils that require colour coding, the text messages that might be really important, and so on.
- Break tasks into smaller sections. Then start working on one without over-thinking. You don’t have to work sequentially by, for example, starting with the introduction to an essay; you could start with the conclusion.
- Work alongside friends you know can focus and concentrate. If you can work at this sort of friend’s house or go to the library with them, you may find that you can work for longer periods of time.
- Attend any supervised Homework Clubs or Subject Surgeries at school or college. When sessions are supervised, there will be someone there to keep you on track.
- Get rid of distractions. Turn your phone off. Work in a quiet room without a TV or radio and away from the window.
- Set yourself time limits. I will work for 20 minutes, then have a break of 10 minutes, then work again for 20 minutes. Reward yourself when you have worked for an hour in this way: have a snack, watch 20 minutes of TV. or phone a friend.
- If a thought comes into your head and distracts you, make a note of it, tell yourself you will deal with it later, and then carry on working.
- Keep lists of tasks to be done, and tick them off when completed to give yourself a sense of progress and achievement. Be realistic about how many of the tasks you can complete in each session; if you are over ambitious, you will be disheartened.
- Take advice from others. See how they deal with procrastination, ask them to mentor you or to take charge of your list of tasks and monitor your progress.