How To Overcome Your Inner Procrastinator?
Been There, Done That
So you’ve tried strongly worded suggestions to yourself like: “Sit down. Open your laptop. Do your friggin’ homework. Now!”
You’ve tried bribing yourself. “If you get your homework done before 10 you can watch another episode of Ted Lasso.”
You’ve fantasized about the judicious use of dynamite applied to targets such as SnapChat, Netflix, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube and anything else sucking precious minutes out of your precious procrastination time. In other words, even when you remove distractions you still find yourself procrastinating. Been there.
And currently you’ve resorted to throwing your hands up in despair. Done that.
I know it’s small comfort, but welcome to the human race, a species that has the unique capacity to be its own biggest pain in the ass. These creatures also have the unfortunate ability, when they so desire, to resist hard work, dislike discomfort, complain when things get tough and blame others for their misfortunes. Who are these guys and who invited them to planet earth? Things were oh so tranquillo before they arrived.
Looking in the mirror you might ask, “Why does this otherwise healthy, well cared for teen brimming with potential and no small amount of intelligence find it so difficult to get started on something as simple as studying for a Spanish quiz tomorrow?”
Be Easy On The Person You Call Me
Let’s make sure this blog accomplishes two things for you. 1) It persuades you that you’re as normal as a good 99% of the rest of us. Seriously, when you’re tripping and looking for appropriate slurs to berate your sluggish behavior, stop it.
Give yourself a break. You’re a friggin’ human being and there was probably a time in our not so distant evolutionary past when being a good procrastinator meant that you didn’t go running after every edible thing in the jungle and thus improved your chances of not becoming Mr. Lion’s edible thing. In other words, a certain amount of inaction, lethargy, obstianance and procrastination may be backed into the DNA cake you otherwise know as yourself.
Learn From Others
- And 2) I hope you draw some inspiration from the following ideas that have helped countless people overcome the exact same annoying put-off-until-tomorrow-ness that you’re struggling with.
1. Rather than looking for information about assignments, projects, test, finals and extra credit opportunities under the multiple tabs or websites for each class, give yourself one lovely place to find all that important information. Create one place to look for what you need to do when you get home from school today. Make it easy on yourself by making a list of everything that needs your attention now and in the next few weeks. There are lots of ways to do this but everything in one place should be your objective. It takes some time to write down everything you need to do on one page but there are tons of apps that help with this and the act of writing it down and updating it regularly is itself very helpful. I coach clients to use Notion for this. Todoist is also a great app. Which leads to our next strategy.
2. Think about how much time it takes to prepare a meal, a real meal. Well, you don’t need that much time, but for things to go smoothly embrace the idea that it takes some amount of time, daily (2-3 minutes), and weekly (6-11 minutes) to move things around on your calendar and lists, check-off stuff that has been completed, add stuff that’s just arrived, switch up priorities if needed, find out what time an appointment is, etc. Take the time to make that resource you’ve created for yourself as accurate as needed to stay on top of your stuff.
3. Make appointments with yourself. “Hello, Me. Thanks for coming to see me, Me.” Come on. It’s fun, and so darn respectful of that person you call Me. Making and keeping appointments with yourself is the way you build strong self regard, a commodity in short supply these days. Oh, and they are also how you hand in papers on time, study for your test in time to learn the stuff that makes stellar grades the norm. Yup. Appointment: 5PM. Attendees: Me & me. Agenda: Algebra II homework. Looking forward to seeing Me there.
4. Remove friction. Friction is not good for things in motion, or things that need to go from sitting in front of the TV to getting in motion, Newton’s Unpublished Law. Think about how you move through your day, in and out of the house, in and outside of school. You’ve got a pattern you follow and if you’re going to get yourself to stop procrastinating it’s got to be in a manner that isn’t a whole lot different from what you’re doing already. If you use your phone a lot, keep this list of things that need your attention, and your appointments with yourself on your phone. If you like writing things down by hand, keep a handy dandy little planner that fits in a pocket or a backpack, but isn’t so big you’d rather leave it behind. That’s friction. Most of my clients use their laptops and phones to organize and prioritize things because the digital world is so, oh so, frictionless. Well, it can be.
5. Speaking of friction. One of the biggest sources of friction is that little thought bubble that keeps floating in front of your brain. “I wonder what’s on Netflix.” Or, “I haven’t heard from my crew today, I wonder what they are up to.” Or, “I wanna see the last ten minutes of yesterday’s basketball game.” Yeah, that’s premium grade friction. When seeking to decrastinate (Yeah, I made it up.) When you procrastinate memorizing your French verbs you kick them down the road to tomorrow. If you want to decrastinate you want to take it away from tomorrow and make those French verbs pop today. List your distracting thought bubbles and come up with a specific reply for each one. Example: Procrastinating thought bubble: I wonder what’s on Netflix. Decrastinating thought bubble: Whatever is on Netflix will be there tomorrow.
6. Finally, fall in love with the tomato. Yup, the innocent little tomato has so much more to offer than being the backbone of ketchup, spaghetti sauce and pizza roll ups. That unassuming vegetable has a lovely plastic side to it that sits on kitchen counters and ticks slowly away while dinner cooks. That unassuming veggie is also the name, in Italian, for that pomodoro timer. Set a timer. Give yourself reason to keep going for another few minutes before clicking the TikTok tab on your browser. Set a timer, there are tons of options to download for laptop and phone alike. Do a search for pomodoro and keep working a few more minutes before you take a short break. See if you can go twenty-five minutes, take a 5 minute break and get back to work for another twenty five. Don’t you dare observe that this is a great way to catch up ;-).
Play around with these and before you know it I’ll be back with more ways to grease your squeaky inner procrastinator wheels.