Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The official student newspaper of Methodist Ladies' College, est. 2020

Dear Daphne #1: How to stop procrastinating?

Dear Daphne,

I’ve been watching a lot of Netflix and anime lately, how do I motivate myself to stop procrastinating?

– A serial procrastinator

Dear procrastinator,

Being in lockdown and lounging around at home 24/7, I completely understand where you’re coming from because I too, am a serial procrastinator. Know that you are not alone and hopefully these following tips can help us all gain motivation and become more productive!

  1. Get rid of distractions and work in a comfortable environment

Before you start studying, get rid of all potential distractions so that you do not later become side-tracked or feel inclined to procrastinate. If you have a habit of spending heaps of time on social media apps such as Instagram or Facebook during allocated ‘study-time’, turn your phone completely off or leave it in an entirely different room. Similarly, place yourself in a study environment where you are free from disruptions such as loud siblings or the enticing TV. It can be helpful to allocate a workplace specifically for studying purposes such as a home office or study. Make sure this area is different from where you usually relax; if you watch anime and ‘chill out’ in the living room, arrange for work and online classes to be undertaken at your desk in your bedroom, and vice versa. You may feel more motivated to study when there is a clearer distinction between ‘work’ and ‘play’ surroundings, especially when stuck at home during quarantine restrictions.

  • Establish a routine and schedule

Keep a planner, journal or calendar (online calendars can be especially useful) where you allocate yourself specific times to complete different tasks each day. These could include class periods, blocks to complete homework, physical activity sessions and even breaktimes to satisfy yourself with the latest anime episodes. Scheduling can be as simple as writing out “4-5 pm complete homework, 5-6 pm shower and have dinner”. Of course, try to stick to your arranged schedule or set routine, but also feel susceptible to flexibility and change. Perhaps you have a sudden ‘family game night’ or online meeting that has popped up; don’t fret and try to readjust your schedule whilst accommodating enough time to finish schoolwork and maintaining wellbeing breaks. Routines or schedules can provide you with general overviews of what you aim to achieve each day, and you might find your productivity increasing when working with specific targets in mind.

  • Set yourself simple, achievable goals

In alignment to following schedules, setting yourself goals to achieve can be very effective in maintaining motivation and productivity. For tackling procrastination in particular, small, simple and achievable goals can be especially effective. If you have a massive assignment or 6,000 word essay to complete, these tasks may initially appear too daunting or overwhelming. Gradually, you might find that uncertainty transitions into feeling unmotivated, which then morphs into extended periods of procrastination and completing tasks last minute- or not even completing them at all! It is much easier to begin a project when establishing simple, reachable goals, instead of facing vague plans that can be modified mid-task. Rather than telling yourself “I’ll study maths tonight” (which could result in one chapter of exercises being completed and many excess hours of watching Netflix), say “I’ll finish six chapters of math homework tonight”. Not only has your goal become clearer and more attainable, it also appears less intimidating and harder to prevaricate. Additionally, try to be realistic when setting these goals and take into consideration your own manageable workload. For example, instead of thinking “I’m going to start from scratch and finish this English essay by 11 pm tonight”, tell yourself “I’m going to establish a general outline of paragraphs, seek out related quotes, and write an introduction tonight”. Finishing work and assignments in bite-sized chucks makes it much more manageable and motivating to complete.

  • Use incentives and promise yourself rewards

Setting incentives and promising yourself rewards for achieving your goals may increase your motivation to actually complete these tasks. For example, you might say “If I finish the last two body paragraphs of my English essay tonight, I’ll watch an additional hour of Netflix”. Or you might strive towards a more long-term goal such as “If I receive an A in my maths test next week, I’ll make myself a chocolate cake and pancakes over the weekend”. Maintain a positive mindset and tell yourself to keep pushing through because once you’ve finished your task, you can celebrate with something fun and exciting. The anticipation of a potential reward can motivate you to complete your objectives and ‘push through the pain’.

  • Find yourself a study buddy

Find yourself a buddy or group that you can do work with, because having a companion can make the studying process a lot more bearable and fun. It can be much easier to avoid distractions and actively complete work on time when both of you are ‘supervising’ each other. However, take careful consideration before choosing a study buddy- if you and your best friend constantly fool around and never get work done in each other’s presence, perhaps they are not a great study buddy choice. Although your partner does not necessarily have to carry the same goals as you, both of you should ideally be aiming for similar directions: for example, wishing to stay focused for 2 hours and working on your respective assignments. You can call each other over Teams, Skype or any other suitable online platform to stay in connection. You may not converse at all in the entire 2 hours, but the mere presence of someone else focusing and completing work alongside you, can be especially motivating regardless. If you are both studying for the same subject such as revising for a maths test, you could even ask each other questions, learn from one another and work together in achieving your respective goals.

  • Use time-management apps to avoid procrastination

You might have already set yourself a planned schedule and listed down goals, but still fell unmotivated to follow these objectives- maybe the next episode of your favourite Netflix show is too enticing or you can’t bear to part with your beloved anime characters. When this time comes, forcefully stop yourself. You can do this by utilising a number of apps and programs designed to prevent procrastination and monitor your work progress.

Cold Turkey Blocker- a website blocking software that can be downloaded onto Windows and Macs. It allows you to block distracting websites such as Netflix and YouTube for a set period of time. (Available for free with additional features for $29)

Procraster- a project completion app compatible with iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. It helps users break down and complete projects in a logical and realistic manner that minimises stress. Procraster prompts users to identify the root source of their procrastination and then provides advice about overcoming their problem- using incentive rewards as well. (Available for $2.99)

Freedom- a website and app blocker compatible with Mac, Windows, iOS, Android, Chromebook, and Linux. Using Freedom, you can block distractions on all of your devices- phone, tablet and computer. (Available for free trial, monthly plans of $6.99 and yearly premium subscriptions of $29.99)

Trello- a project and task management tool downloadable on App Store, Google Play, and Microsoft. Trello can be used individually or collaboratively in teams, allowing you to organize your projects into visual Kanban boards that clearly tell you what’s being worked on, who’s working on what, and where something is in a process. (Available for free with Business Class monthly plans of $12.50)

Hopefully all these tips and tricks can help motivate you to stop procrastinating and become more productive! Although they predominantly apply to schoolwork and academia, you can still consider them when undertaking different projects and striving for unique targets.



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