Procrastination comes from the Latin pro, meaning “forward, forth, or in favor of, ” and crastinus, meaning “of tomorrow”. As we all know, to procrastinate means “to keep delaying something that must be done, often because it is unpleasant or boring” (Cambridge International Dictionary of English). It’s funny how I started writing this article only a few hours before the launch of the new issue of Estate & Manor Magazine. I have been going to write it for a couple of days but… but I was so busy with other things! Very important things, yes, but it doesn’t really matter, does it? Surely, I could have found a couple of hours to do it… but I procrastinated instead. Guilty. Guilty. But aren’t we all?
Procrastination is an incredible phenomenon, which occurs in our lives every day – we are not robots and we prioritise our activities according to our musts, needs and desires. Wrong word order, I should have said desires, needs and musts. ‘Musts’ somehow mysteriously often come last. Especially if that particular ‘must’ is something we really don’t feel like doing. We will find any excuse not to do it right now and will keep postponing it until… until a few hours before the magazine launch? I can’t say that I really didn’t want to write this article though, no! On the contrary, I did want to write it, however, there were always other things I had to do first. Even my lists didn’t help this time!
So… Is there a magic pill to cure procrastination? Is there anything we can do to avoid panic attacks before deadlines and sleepless nights spent working/studying/finishing-something-that-has-to-be-finished-in-the-morning? Is there a way to fight off procrastination forever and scare it away so it never comes back? A lot of experienced clever people teach us how to deal with procrastination and I tend to listen to them. I don’t always follow their advice though – just like all of us I am not a machine and can’t be programmed to execute certain tasks at certain times on a daily basis. I am getting better in terms of deadlines though; I tend to look ahead and plan my time far better than I used to. However, if you told me I had to spend another 5 years at the University, I don’t think I’d be peacefully writing all of my course works 2 pages a day… I suppose now instead of the usual 3 days and 3 nights I would probably spread the work over 10 or 14 days :).
To celebrate my “victory” in the procrastination war zone, here are a few tips that usually help me get things done in time:
- To Do Lists
Every week I make a new To Do List. Every week the list becomes longer. Every week I keep crossing things that I have done out with a thrilling sense of satisfaction. Every week when I cross 1 thing out, 2 or 3 new ones appear in its place. Every week I manage to get more and more things done. Whatever is left unfinished gets transferred onto the new list… and the story repeats itself.
(Feel free to read my article on Time Management to find out more about lists and other useful tips on how to manage your time efficiently
- Planning Ahead
Knowing what and when I am doing helps big time! Scheduling as much as possible might seem like a boring thing to do but in order to increase productivity, our spontaneous behavioral patterns have to be dealt with. Personally, I am a very chaotic human being, so if the structure is missing, a lot of my energy simply gets wasted. I tend to have a day or two a week when I just misbehave and decide to be adventurous without planning. I will still cross a few things out on my lists on those days though.
- Prioritising my tasks
Whatever can’t wait, can’t wait. It gets done. Sometimes last minute still (guilty again), but it gets done. Not letting yourself relax and postpone things too much, worming your way out of unpleasant situations and blaming the whole world for your own procrastination is never an option. So, urgent and important things are always top priority. Don’t push yourself further into oblivion by putting crucial things off.
- Getting all the boring and unpleasant stuff done first
Boring and unpleasant tasks get done straight after the urgent and important ones. Pretty often the two cross match, which makes things a bit more difficult. However, the feeling of achievement and satisfaction after you’ve done something really boring is well worth it! As if you were holding the weight of the world on your shoulders and now it’s gone! The sense of relief and freedom are the best you can experience, don’t deny yourself such joy!
- Remembering previous disastrous experiences
Panicking, rushing around and feeling the adrenaline pumping through your veins when you suddenly realize that you have no time left yet nothing has been done is not the most wonderful experience. Memories of fear and stress often help to avoid making the same mistake twice, so recalling your previous catastrophes and embarrassments from time to time is a great way to motivate yourself and triumph over procrastination.
Good luck with getting things done!