Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Ways to Stop Procrastinating

  This is an Art blog, but the information in this post can be applied to most, if not all, people. Change up the methods to fit the activity you're doing.

  Keep in mind though that you must really feel compelled to not want to waste time on things that don't help you in order to free up time for things that you want to do– like eating healthy, studying, drawing, exercising, or spending time with your friends/family.

Method #1: The Reward Systems

  The Science behind procrastination, simply put, is just your brain being afraid of hard work and thus telling you to do useless stuff like checking your Facebook or e-mail every five minutes and rewarding you for it. So you have to find a way to work around that problem. The way to do it is pretty simple. You set yourself a target goal, and you reward yourself for achieving it.

The 40-10 Rule
  For things that I don't enjoy doing, I use the 40-10 rule. 40 minutes of work in exchange for a 10 minutes break. Using studying as an example... If you spend 40 minutes of PURE studying (no distractions) you earn yourself a 10 minute break.

The Red Crosses
  This works for things that you have to do on a daily basis. Like exercising, for example. Or drawing. Get a calendar and a thick red marker. At the end of each day, if you've accomplished the activity you needed to do, you cross out today's date with a big red X. 

Will Work for Reward
  This is a method I like using because it's extremely effective. Say, you have to do something you don't like tomorrow- for example, cleaning your room. Find an activity that you enjoy and use that as a reward for cleaning your room. It could be anything from being allowed to watch your favourite show at 7pm, or giving yourself time to go watch a movie after.

  A word of advice for this method; never use food, water, or sleep as rewards because your brain requires these things. A healthy snack (like an avocado, if you like avocados) can be used as a reward, but meals should never be used as rewards.

Drop and Give Me Twenty!
  In the other extreme, you could use punishment as a way to push yourself through. For example, if you're like me and hate doing Maths homework, you could tell yourself that if you do not finish your homework in a reasonable amount of time, you'll have to do extra problem sums as punishment.
  This works if you need some motivation to push yourself to finish an activity. Always give yourself a reasonable amount of time– not too much (otherwise you'll just be lazy) and not too little (don't make the task impossible for yourself).

Method #2: Stop or Reduce

  If you're spending too much time on an activity that doesn't help you, the best solution is to stop doing it all together. If you cannot stop doing it entirely, limit the amount of time you spend on it.

Identify the things in your life that you could do without.
  I'm not talking about chores, or errands, or important things that you need to do. I'm talking about watching tele, playing video games, surfing the web for cute cat pictures, Tumblr, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter... Anything that doesn't help you in improving yourself should be scrutinised.

"Do I really need to do this?"
  Keyword being "NEED". Want and need are two very different things. You need to eat in order to keep yourself alive, but you want to eat that bar of milk chocolate because it tastes good. If you don't need it, you should either;

Stop or reduce.
  I identified that I was spending way too much time on YouTube. I tried to reason that I was watching educational videos, so it was improving myself. So I chose to reduce the time I spent on it, and I hid the app in a folder so it wouldn't be staring at me in the face every time I unlocked my iPhone. Another thing I was spending a lot of time on: Tumblr. It's an endless loop of like, reblog, refresh. I really enjoyed Tumblr but it was eating up far too much of my time. So I had to stop the activity. Thus, I deleted the Tumblr app on my iPhone.

  A week later, I knew what wasn't working... I had managed to stay off Tumblr for the entire week, but YouTube was still sucking me in. ... So I deleted the YouTube app on my phone as well.

  Tough decisions? Yes. Worth it? Definitely.

***

There are some activities that you cannot stop doing (or are not willing to give up entirely). For example, I sometimes get lost in the interweb while looking for artists to recommend on my blog because there is just so much good art to look at, but blogging is important to me.

The solution: a deadline. You only give yourself a certain time frame to work with and you stick with it. For blogging, I give myself 3 hours at most on each post. If the time is up, I save the post as a draft and continue tomorrow.

Method #3: It's not thaattt difficult...

  You procrastinate because you feel the task that you need to do is too difficult and that there are many other things that are much easier to do (albeit them being useless to your improvement). To overcome this problem, you break down the activity you need to do into smaller, more manageable tasks.

For example;
  You have to plan a birthday party.

Break it down into things that you need to do...
I need to make invitation cards. I need to get decorations. I need to get food for the party. Etc.

Then decide how each task needs to be accomplished...
I need to find out who to invite. Lily knows how to print invitation cards so I shall call her later to ask if she can help. I need to go to the party store to buy decorations and balloons. I need to call catering. Etc.

  Breaking something down to small tasks makes you see that it's not that difficult to accomplish it, and you won't feel so overwhelmed, or at lost as to what to do.

Method #4: The Two Minute Rule

  Can it be done in two minutes?

  Yes?  Do it now.

  No?  Add it to your to-do list. (ie: See method #5.)

Method #5: Make Lists. (It's what I do)

  Now, I've found that this method doesn't work for everyone... But it works for me so I'm going to share it.

  I like making lists of things. To-do lists... Shopping lists... Things that I'd like to draw lists... Lists helps me keep track of things and help me to keep my thoughts straight and my mind free to focus on other things. Because if all your brain is telling you all day is that you have to buy milk, and eggs, and you've got to remember to stop by your best friend's place today to ask her if she has that one comic book that you haven't read, and that you need to go to the library later to return two books, and that you have to go to...

  Yeah. You won't have space to think of other things. So I like to make lists. The daily to-do lists I make guide me through what I have to accomplish each day and I am accountable for my actions at the end of each day. I usually write my to-do list according to the order that I want to work. So, high importance things at the top, things that I can get done quickly go next, things that I should get done follow that, and finally, things that I can do if I find the time go at the bottom.

  It's good to add little boxes in front of every task you need to do so that you can check them off after completion so that you have a little reward system in place.   :)

Method #6: < you tell me >

  What methods do you use to help prevent procrastination? Were the methods I stated above useful? Leave me a comment in the comment section below telling me what you think.

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