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How do you limit procrastination?

I think this has been an issue tons of people have because procrastination makes us lose some big opportunities. What are some tips that could help out with procrastination and increase my motivation to work?

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Doc’s Answer

Erica when trying to avoid procrastination, a great way to start is by setting goals. Once you are aware of your goals, you can go about setting a time frame in which you wish to achieve them. Without specific parameters in mind for achieving a goal, it can be very easy to fall back into bad habits. When you're setting goals for a test or exam, think carefully about the outcome you wish to achieve and how much time you have to make it happen. From there, you can start creating a plan that will help you prepare in the best way possible.

I hope this will be helpful Erica

Doc recommends the following next steps:

Life can keep you busy at times, which can make reaching your goals seem unattainable. When this happens, it's important to develop a strategy that will keep you from becoming overwhelmed by the work that it will take. It's not necessary to have a detailed plan right from the beginning, and you don't need to work on everything at one time. Just start with small steps that will get you going. For example, when you're studying, consider setting goals that consist of smaller achievable tasks. You can do this by separating the material into subjects, choosing a block of time for each, and then breaking this information down even further by topic. Having an appropriate strategy can go a long way in determining a positive outcome.
Always keep your future in mind. When working on your goal becomes difficult, and you find yourself beginning to slide backward, think about what your future will look like once your goal is accomplished. Think about how it will affect your life and the people around you. This can keep you going when you're finding it hard to continue. For example, when you're preparing for exams, think about how you can improve your studying techniques for next semester and avoid procrastination from the very beginning.
An important step in avoiding procrastination is making sure you hold yourself accountable. One great way to achieve accountability is to find a buddy or group of people who will offer consistent support. Often people like to work with groups that have the same goals so they can all support each other on their journeys. For instance, if you have study goals, you might consider joining a study group that has regular meetings and can provide encouragement when you need it. These people can remind you of why you're working hard, where you're headed, and help keep you on track.
It's vital to always take care of yourself by getting enough sleep, eating well and taking breaks to clear your mind. Once you feel ready for a test, allow yourself some time to relax and wind down. Taking a moment to de-stress can help minimize anxiety and ensure a better outcome. Reward yourself once the test is completed. Knowing you have a reward planned can help you continue to have something to look forward to while preparing.
Thank you comment icon Thank You Samay. Every person can make a difference, and every person should try. Doc Frick
Thank you comment icon Thank You Emma. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. Doc Frick
Thank you comment icon Thank You Stephanie. Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. Doc Frick
Thank you comment icon Breaking down big projects into the small in a big one for me! Writing a 7 page essay or reading 100 pages sounds scary but breaking it down by working backwards from the deadline is super helpful. For example, if I have an essay due August 10th and I have a week until then, I'll start on Monday and write a page each day until I'm done. Gurpreet Lally, Admin
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Samay’s Answer

I feel as if procrastination for me has always stemmed from a fear or anxiety associated with starting a daunting task. In college this looks like waiting last minute to finish a big assignment, study for an exam, etc. I think the tipping point for me to confront my procrastination was when I had to pull a few all nighters back to back to catch up the work/studying I had been procrastinating and suffering a lot that whole week because of the consequences of my actions. It was then I prioritized starting early no matter how afraid I was of failing or not understanding the task at hand. It was nothing compared to the anxiety I built up waiting last minute. Once you accept you are in control and responsible for how you respond to difficult situations you can be the one to progress towards better habits--and its rewarding on all ends.

Not only will starting earlier give you the chance to see if the task is really as hard as it seems (which it usually isn't), but it also allows you time to engage with your work relatively stress free and clear minded because of how early you approach it. I think just starting is the hardest step with procrastination, it feels as if it's the last thing you want to think about. However, the sooner you start the less your future self has to suffer-- and that mentality of caring for my future self and starting early led to better results, better mental health, and gave me confidence to start a lot of things earlier. The sacrifice in the present moment builds towards a greater goal and long term gratitude and allows you time to consult your TAs, professors, etc. if you need the help. It is a mental battle but one that can be consciously fought and conquered.
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Ricardo’s Answer

The best way to deal with procrastination is to know your work/study pattern. Once you understand that you work better alone or in groups, listening to music or in complete silence, early in the morning or late in evening, the next step is to break the activity down into smaller tasks. In my case, I turn my cell down to the desk so I can’t see notifications, put my noise cancelling headset with some music on and open the task with specific goals. It could be reading one page of a document or create a draft of a proposal. Usually, once I get traction, then everything flows naturally. You can also reward yourself if you achieve your goal.
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Maeve’s Answer, CareerVillage.org Team

If I am procrastinating a task, I always procrastinate by scrolling on social media. If this is something you relate to, I recommend that you implement screen time controls on your phone. I have found that setting boundaries for how much time I can spend on certain apps REALLY helps prevent me from procrastinating more important tasks. It is easy to set up a screen time limit. Once you hit a certain amount of time on an app your phone will lock you from opening it for the rest of the day. Something else that helps is setting aside breaks where I allow myself time to go on social media. For example, I will designate 25 minutes for work time, followed by 5 minutes on instagram. The little scheduled social media breaks in between more focused periods of work time helps a lot!
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Ayush’s Answer

While I often struggle with the same issue, but over the years I have realized a few things.
First, you are not unproductive or lazy, you are just not able to create conditions conducive to make you productive
Second, just because everyone else is following a pattern or schedule, does not mean it is the best for you
Third, seeking perfectionism is not wrong, but you should seek it only for the most important tasks
Lastly, it will take weeks if not months to overcome this so there are no quick fixes

So, let me share a few suggestions.It is really difficult to change your productivity hours, so don't fight them but create your work/study schedule around them. If you are working, remote work allows you to be flexible so make full use of it and prefer jobs that are flexible. For eg. I am very productive between 8-11 and 5-10, but most jobs are 9-5, so I feel very unproductive during normal business hours. To solve this I only schedule meetings between 11-5 or do my other personal tasks in this time.
Secondly, start small and with boring tasks. Those small wins really add up and give you a mental boost.
Third and most importantly, create a space where you are only with your task. Remove distractions and be strict with yourself for 20 mins, then 30 mins and then an hour. Over time, all of this will surely help you.

The fact that you asked this question means that you are willing to fight this and I wish you all the best!
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Raisa Anan’s Answer

Hi Erica!

In high school, my habit of procrastinating was at its worst. I still procrastinate now, but it's far less severe than it was back then. I followed these steps to improve:
1) Organize your work into categories and put clear labels on them. Organizing my tasks was a massive factor in limiting my procrastination. I realized I used to procrastinate through this type of thinking pattern: "Oh, I need to start the maths homework that's due in two days. But before that I should complete the literature homework and - oh, I forgot to do research for it!" Yes, it was like that. After I begun to organize, schedule and label my tasks, it became more clear, assured and simple.

2) Start to work from the day you've been assigned with any tasks. Oftentimes, due dates can give the impression of a lot of time in your hands. Instead try to think the whole period - from assigned date to the due date - is meant to be utilized.

3) Positively think about the free time you'll have if you finish before the due date.

4) If you are working in a team and the other members of the team are procrastinating, try your best to not give in to do the same. Instead finish your part on time and remind others to do the same.

5) I have found that whenever I talk to a classmate, who is further ahead in their work than I am, I'll be motivated to work harder!

6) Make your work more enjoyable. For instance, whenever I research any topic, I'll take short breaks during which I'll look up memes, share my progress with my sister, or doodle at the edges of my notebook.

Hope that helps :)
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meredith’s Answer

Hi Erica, good question! One thing that helps me is staying organized- I work remotely and keeping a clean space definitely helps with procrastination.
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Kyle’s Answer

Different tactics work for different people, and there are many variables to consider when trying to limit procrastination. For me, what tends to work is physically writing out goals or long-term tasks I have on my agenda. Completing these tasks then feels like more of an accomplishment and provides more satisfaction. Also, it is important to learn from your past experiences and make changes as needed.
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Ethiopia’s Answer

This may seem like a lot at first but it makes life easier afterwards. While I was in college, at the beginning of the semester, I would take all of the syllabi from my classes and create a document based on the due dates and how much time I know that I need to complete assignments. I would either do it by week but I specifically did it by day and write down just exactly what I was going to so that day/week and specifically stick to that list. No more and no less and that way I know that if I complete that work, then I have paced it out so that I can get everything done without stressing at the last minute.
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Kruti’s Answer

What helps me is committing to the task and focusing on doing it, not avoiding it by writing down the tasks that need to be completed, and specify a time for doing them. Crossing off tasks on my to do list give me a sense of accomplishment.
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R’s Answer

Hi Erica! Glad you're seeking advice on this!

There are lots of great advices in the comments - breaking the task into smaller tasks, setting timer, etc, which are all super helpful.

One additional thing I think is important is to celebrate every step you take, even if they are small successes. Personally, I set up a Notion page to track all the plans and progress I have, the daily tasks I plan to complete, and I even track the daily habits I want to build.

By the end of every month, I do a monthly reflection to see what I did well, and what I should change.

I found that by documenting the mini-steps you took and the progress you made, it really encourages me to stick to my plans and spend each day fruitfully.

Hope this is helpful for you!
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Andrea G’s Answer

Erica, I have so many points of reference! :) I tend to procrastinate when I'm feeling overwhelmed. What works for me is scheduling time to outline a to-do list of upcoming projects and tasks. Scheduling time free of distractions--that includes people, email and social media alerts, is optimal.

It may seem counterintuitive to 'carve' time in your calendar but it helps to understand what's on your plate, the scope of work for each project and the time each task will take. I then rate each task based on its priority. As an example, in any given day I am coming up with story ideas and concepts, researching topics, then writing about the topics and editing the work but also communicating with clients, drafting external marketing campaigns and filing invoices. Priorities shift depending on deadlines made by clients, or professors, but once you get a rhythm for how you work the process can be ritualized.
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Robert’s Answer

Hey Erica! I've definitely dealt with procrastination in the past before too. For me, it was really helpful first outlining my future goals that I wanted to achieve and the steps required to achieve them. These steps don't need to be gigantic, just small, achievable checkpoints towards your overall goal. Most people when they have homework or exams to study for, they study in their rooms. For many of people, like myself, I find that really hard to concentrate as it's too comfortable of an environment. Because of this, I would go out to the library or even coffeeshops. Just knowing that I'm out in public, I can really concentrate on whatever I was working on and maximize my productivity. You really just have to force yourself to make small changes to your daily lifestyle and in the end these will become healthy habits you will continually pursue.
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Davis’s Answer

Hi Erica,

This is a great question that people of all skill levels, ages, backgrounds and experiences effects, including myself. I'd like to acknowledge the plethora of great answers in the thread, as well.

I find that setting goals and being able to track them, whether it's on a computer, calendar, whiteboard, or daily planner, is an effective way to mitigate procrastination. Procrastination, in my view, is a habit, and habits can be changed. By writing down what you need to accomplish, and checking it frequently, it keeps your goals and tasks at the front of your mind, and you are subsequently more apt to complete them. For myself, it feels good when I know I've completed a task, whether it be during work, or my home life. Procrastination also adds unnecessary stress to your life, and if you can overcome procrastination, then you will lead a more balanced and happy life, in my view.
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Joshua’s Answer

Hi,
I would say this really depends case to case. But is all about how you approach the situation. I think the big thing to do to start is put yourself in a good environment for working and getting items done. When you get an assignment try to do a read through right when it comes out. I know that is easier said than done but I think one big thing is really getting an idea of the scope of work needed for each assignment. When doing that read through take down notes and just do general brainstorming about what you may want to do. This is always a great start because if It ends up being an interesting idea you come up with you might want to start right away. Although not prefect I hope these few ideas can help you out
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Joanna’s Answer

I think you can start to weave in steps slowly to offset your procrastination. It can depend where your procrastination is coming from. Is it because you're easily distracted by email, work chats, your personal life, phone, etc. or you have a never ending to do list that overwhelms you? Consider creating a to do list but be realistic with yourself - what must get done and what can wait until the next day or next week - a more manageable list can make the tasks feel less daunting.

If you find you get distracted easily, consider blocking off time in your calendar to get a specific task done and turn off everything else - close email, chats and put your phone away. Give yourself that uninterrupted time to work on a specific activity. Maybe start with one 30 minute block in your calendar each day, try to do that regularly and then expand to multiple blocks per day for a maximum productive time.
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