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“I'm a master procrastinator. Here's what happened when I tried to kick the habit."

I’m guessing that at some point, you have googled the words “how to stop procrastinating.”

Although this usually happens in the hopes of reading a life-changing article which will help you get your life back on track, it’s actually just another form of procrastination because suddenly it’s 3am and you’re watching a video of a spider dancing to jazz.

That’s not just me, right? Right?

The frustrating thing about most articles on procrastination, I find, is that they’re usually written by people who really have their life together. You know the type – they’ll pay $400 for a leather-bound diary planner, and proceed to actually use the diary planner past the fifth day of January.

I am not that person. So I thought it was time for someone like me — someone who, ahem, started writing this article 15 before I was meant to leave the office — to figure out procrastination tips actually work and which ones don’t.

"Technology is a person’s worst enemy when it comes to getting work done."

With some help from Google, I compiled the five anti-procrastination tips most articles recommended and put them to the test as I worked on my university assignments.

Tip 1. Ask yourself why.

Understanding why you procrastinate and actually admitting you have a problem is the first step in your road to recovery.

So WHY do we put tasks off until later?

Some people procrastinate because they fear failure or even success. They would rather others think they just can't be bothered finishing a task, rather than lacking ability. Others might procrastinate because they love the adrenaline rush of waiting until the last minute to get things done, while others have a difficult time making a decision, so they put off doing the work in order to eliminate the responsibility. As for me? I just find other tasks more interesting.

Whatever it may be, accepting the reason why you have just decided to watch a 30-minute video on how to knit a scarf for your son (even though you don’t how to knit and don’t actually have any kids) instead of doing that important documentation due tonight did help, as I recognised there was an problem which needed to be fixed.

2. Make a to-do list

List-making. Sounds simple, right?

Wrong.

I ended up spending an hour trying to draw up a creative to-do list, having drawn inspiration from the to-do lists that people who actually have their lives together have uploaded onto social media.

LOOK AT THEM!

Image via Instagram.
  Image via Instagram.

Eventually I accepted defeat, wrote up a normal to-do list and placed it up above my desk where I couldn’t run away from it. Having the list staring right back at me made me want to finish the things I had set out for that day, and before I knew it I had ticked off half of the items. As the days went on, I got better and better at finishing off the things I had set for that day.

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3. Remove distractions

These days, technology is a person’s worst enemy when it comes to getting work done. As I need my laptop to do my assignments, simply turning off all technology is not possible. And having to be constantly connected to Wi-Fi is the very reason I always find myself lost in the deep dark abyss of my Facebook newsfeed.

But never fear: there is a solution, and it's an app called SelfControl.

Downloadable on all laptops, it allows you to choose which sites to block for however many hours you wish. Needless to say I ended up blocking every social media site I have an account on – and also ones I don’t actually have an account on, just to be safe.

via GIPHY

This worked — no matter how hard I tried, the app wouldn't let me access the sites until the the allocated time was over. A word of warning, though: you might be inclined to throw your laptop at the wall when all you want to do is have a quick peek to see if someone has messaged you on Facebook (I will not be responsible for any damages).

4. Get together with a group of people who will inspire you to do work

…is one of the tips that failed miserably for me. It might work for you - that is, if your friends aren’t all procrastinators - but I was doomed to fail.

Turning up to the library with a friend, we began the day feeling motivated to get work finished. Three hours later, we found ourselves watching a video of two YouTubers eating chicken from a drain, followed by one of them being dared to eat a rotten strawberry from a dumpster.  SPOILER ALERT: He ate the rotten strawberry.

Getting work done without the distraction of friends and weird YouTube videos is definitely the way to go.

Alternatively, just get new friends.

5. Reward yourself 

You’ve been working hard — OK, harder than usual. Allowing yourself a little reward, whether it be as simple as going outside and breathing in the fresh air or hanging out with a friend after your task is done, works a treat.

Doing this made re-motivated to get work done, both before and after my break. Then again, you could always just use chocolate as a way to motivate yourself to getting work done.

Overall, I achieved my goal of submitting all my university assignments at a record two hours before the deadline.

Kicking a procrastination habit takes time, but once I got in the mindset of doing work I found most of the tips mentioned actually did work. It was great not having to feel stressed and I was able to freely enjoy leisure activities without feeling guilty about it.

I still have long to go in actually committing to using that diary planner, though…

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