You have assignments to write and exams to study for, but you feel stressed and overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Also, the dog looks bored, you should really take him for a quick walk.  Damn, you forgot to hang out the load of washing from this morning. Better do that quickly. Your phone beeps. Your best friend has just uploaded an Insta story. You should be supportive and watch it and comment and… hang on, is that the time?

Okay, that’s enough, time to buckle down and study. Some caffeine will help you to focus! Oh, no that’s right, you had the last of the coffee yesterday. Better shoot down to the supermarket and pick up some more…
Sound familiar? We’ve all been there. It has a name. It’s called procrastination.
 

Why do we procrastinate?

Procrastination allows us to remain all warm and snuggly in the safety of our comfort zones. Tackling something new and complex takes effort and will often cause a level of discomfort. We procrastinate to avoid this discomfort.

Author, Mel Robbins, sees procrastination as a form of stress relief. We associate a certain task with being stressful and therefore avoid the task in order to avoid the stress. The problem is that by continuing to procrastinate, our stress builds and amplifies as the deadline looms closer.Procrastination becomes a habit and habits become ingrained.

So, when you find yourself in the throes of procrastination, how do you fight your way out?

Developing self-awareness around why and how you procrastinate is the first step in overcoming it.

Five tips for overcoming procrastination

  1. Schedule your time and prioritise

For most of us, our schedules are jam-packed with competing priorities. Walking the dog, completing household chores and supporting a friend are important to us and tasks that we will need to complete eventually. However, if the 1500-word assignment is due tomorrow, the vacuuming can probably wait another day. Make the time to plan out your day, decide what tasks are low priority and schedule time into your diary to complete the tasks that need to be completed today.

        2. Know your triggers

Recognise your main avoidance tactics are as well as the thought patterns that give you permission to justify and delay. It may be social media, Netflix, an extra hour in bed, household chores or all-of-the-above? When you are mid-task (or mid Game of Thrones), question what you are doing and whether it is the best use of your time at this moment. Recognise when you are procrastinating and actively listen to your self-talk so you don’t get caught up in the justification merry-go-round and end up berating yourself at the end of the day.

        3. Practice mindfulness

Acknowledge that you are stressed and stop being so hard on yourself. Instead, practice mindfulness and allow yourself to be present. Meditation and mindfulness practice can improve your focus and attention span and help you cultivate greater self-awareness, leaving you less likely to yield to distractions.

        4. Get enough sleep

No, don’t take an afternoon nap instead of working on that case study. Get a good night’s sleep the night before! Quality sleep is conducive to optimal mental performance. A bad night’s sleep impacts memory and concentration and disrupts cortisol levels, therefore increasing stress which we now know is procrastination’s best friend!

        5. Eliminate distractions

Eliminate as many distractions as possible before you get started. Set your phone to silent, turn off digital notifications, have water and healthy snacks on hand and ensure your workspace is comfortable and conducive to working. 

Now you have the tools to beat procrastination, what are you waiting for? Stop reading this blog, open your textbook and get started!

Posted by Emma Higginson
Emma Higginson

Emma Nuttall (Higginson) is a freelance health and wellbeing writer and is currently completing Nutrition studies at Endeavour. Emma shares her passion for natural health through her website www.healthservedup.com.

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