How many times have you referred to the proverb ‘Better late than never’ in vain hope to justify yourself— to yourself? And what about Mark Twain’s ‘Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow’? How many times did it look like a fitting excuse? And every single time you end up with a low-quality end result, thinking to yourself ‘I could have done better, but now no one will know’ and ‘Next time I’m going to start it right away!’ (Spoiler alert: you never do). It is high time you stood up to that lazy part of yourself and defeated it once and for all!
One tip that most people will give you is to keep a planner. Write down your appointments, to-do lists, and most importantly — your deadlines. And here is another tip: if your project is due in three weeks, set the deadline for a week before that. That way even if you don’t do the entire project in that one night, you will have a good chunk of it done when you eventually get to it the night before the actual deadline. Also, you might actually forget about the real date and will have a full week to fix mistakes and improve it.
Do everything in one go! Obviously it won’t work with big projects (well, it can, if you do not care about its quality, but you absolutely should), but small tasks, like answering those e-mails that have been piling up in your inbox, or finally doing the dishes before they go moldy, should be tackled in one sitting. Washing one plate so that you can eat will most likely only make you more miserable when you get to the rest of them (especially if they do go moldy; ew).
Over the years I came to the realization that the only way for me to do something is to actually push myself to do it, to sit down in front of my laptop and just do it. Usually I put some music on, because silence makes my task look even more daunting than it is. But my tip is to put on something new, maybe that new album you have wanted to listen to for ages, or a new artist you have been meaning to check out since last year. Familiar, well-loved songs I know by heart just lead to impromptu sing-alongs that last well into the night, and in the end I just shrug, tell myself I will do it tomorrow, and go to bed.
Also, be aware of the breaks you take— five minutes means five minutes, not ‘just until I finish this episode’ or ‘I’ll go back to work at 3pm exactly!.. Well, 3:30 is as good a time as any’. Set a timer and stick to your timetable, and do not start anything that will require a lot of time during breaks. Have a quick snack or watch a BuzzFeed video, not a 35 minute long daily vlog— even if it is your favourite vlogger.
One problem I always face is overthinking. I start stressing about how much work I have to do, and all the research and preparation that goes into it, and I get myself so anxious that I just cannot start it, I’m too scared— that it is bigger than me, that I’m too stupid for it, that I should just quit. When I finally face my deadline, though, it turns out that I most definitely can, but then I don’t have enough time to do it well.
So don’t think about all the work you need to get done; just get it done.
(P.S. As you can probably tell from my months-long absence, I’m really bad at fighting procrastination. Any tips?)