Now that you know a little bit about why you may have procrastinated in the past, let’s explore some of the strategies you might use to combat your procrastination tendencies, now and in the future. Experiment with whichever of these strategies appeals to you; if you try something and it doesn’t work, try something else! Be patient; improvement will come with practice.
Take an inventory.
Figuring out exactly when and how you procrastinate can help you stop the behavior. It can be difficult to tell when you are procrastinating. Think about the clues that tell you that’s what you’re doing: for example, a nagging voice in your head, a visual image of what you are avoiding or the consequences of not doing it, physical ailments (stomach tightness, headaches, muscle tension), inability to concentrate, inability to enjoy what you are doing.
How do you procrastinate?
- Try to ignore the task, hoping against hope that it will go away?
- Over- or under-estimate the degree of difficulty that the task involves?
- Minimize the impact that your performance now may have on your future?
- Substitute something important for something really important? (For example, cleaning instead of writing your paper.)
- Let a short break become a long one, or an evening in which you do no work at all? (For example, claiming that you are going to watch TV for ½ hour, then watching it all night.)
- Focus on one part of the task, at the expense of the rest? (For example, keep working on the introduction, while putting off writing the body and conclusion) Spend too much time researching or choosing a topic
Once you better understand how you procrastinate, you will be better able to catch yourself doing it. Too often, we don’t even realize that we are procrastinating—until it’s too late.