Written by May Yang: May

More than a month ago, I knew that I would be writing a blog. About two weeks ago, I reminded myself to do it. Now, 12 hours after the time it was supposed to be finished, these two lines are all I have.

I already know that I have a bad habit of procrastination.

Will you choose to do low priority things from your to-do list and leave important items for a long time?

Will you go off to make a coffee one-second after sitting down to start a difficult task?

Will you wait until the very last minute to prepare for the assignment due the next day?

If yes, I am sorry to tell you that you are with me. We all procrastinate to some degree.

To me, procrastination is not all bad. I have a higher efficiency during the last minute when I feel some pressure. However, I might accomplish better work if I can start early. If I do not control my lazy side and let it procrastinate, I will never find my potential. When the pressure turns into stress, I cannot sleep well and I have a low mood, which can affect the people around me.

It has been a long time battle with procrastination. I won’t say I have already succeeded according to my behavior in the beginning, but I tried some steps to manage my time and reduce postponing tasks even more.

First of all, face it. To be honest with myself, I realize and admit that I am procrastinating the task if I find myself turning to something else every time I think I should do it. If you are a procrastinator, you probably will also know when you are procrastinating.

Then, find the reason why you are delaying a certain task. Some reasons are easy to find while others might be harder to observe. Here are the common reasons why I procrastinate:

  • It is still early. I have plenty of time, so it can be wait.
  • This task is too hard and I do not know how to begin.
  • I do not like doing such things and would rather doing something else.
  • It needs a lot of time. I cannot finish it soon anyway so I will finish other tasks first.
  • I am not ready for the project and need other knowledge to get started.

After finding the reasons, I try to find arguments against them and persuade myself to start. For the reasons above, I can say:

  • It does not hurt to start early. I might be over-confident and there actually might not be that much time to wait.
  • This task looks hard, but I never know until I really start.
  • Though it is not an enjoyable thing to do, I will feel very good when I finish it.
  • It is time consuming. But I can separate it into small parts and finish a little bit per day.
  •  I can get started first and learn when there is a need.

Finally, stop the delay and get started!

I also have some tips to help. Examples include treating myself to something sweet if I can stop procrastinating and finish a task on time, posting my plan and letting others push me, or choose a good role model. Sometimes, I will also change an environment to get things started.

You might wonder how much these methods will help. Sometimes, you know exactly what you should be doing while you just cannot do it. (At least I have experienced this before.) I will say it never hurts to give it a try. You might still procrastinate, but you will be able to resolve the problem more quickly and get things done. After a few successful cases, the good feeling will increase your confidence and help the next time. Though I have not gotten rid of procrastinating tasks completely, I do enjoy the time when I am not procrastinating. I feel a better control of life and more peace of mind.