Back in high school, whenever I brought up the issue of procrastination, my friend would always quip, “Procrastinators unite. Tomorrow.” It’s safe to say we never met up.
But in all seriousness, even as a person who likes to pride myself on time management, I still find myself drawn to the temptation of another YouTube video — one about Tim Urban detailing procrastination — or simply forgoing the assignment in the hopes of being motivated by a last minute panic monster. Ironically , as I write this article about procrastination, I am procrastinating on writing a paper.
So I guess the question here is: how do we motivate ourselves to avoid procrastination? Here are some quick and easy tips for self-motivation.
- Goal Setting
One of the more accessible sources of motivation comes from explicit goal definition, be it long-term or short-term goals. The act of goal setting allows an active acknowledgement of necessary tasks and allows you to approach your obligations with a totality. After this organizational period, you then have the ability to exercise prioritization and organize your goals in an intended sequence for completion.
Agendas and many productivity applications allow you to customize this experience, but it does not even need to reach that complication. In my senior year of high school, I simply listed my greater obligations on post-it notes. This allowed the catharsis of ripping the post-it note off the wall and tearing it up upon my conquest of those tasks.
While some people are more gifted with intrinsic motivation — the pure desire to accomplish these tasks — without the necessity to see an immediate payoff from accomplishing a task, other people do require a more concrete sense of reward or consequence.
A good reward structure typically involves an interpolation of tasks and rewards. For instance, you can say that if you accomplish 60 pages of reading, you allow yourself a 30 minute break of YouTube or another activity that you enjoy. This, of course, can be adjusted for the specificities of your task.
- Work Together
By working together, I do not mean to copy each other’s answers on homework. By working together, I mean that you should explain your goals to the important people in your lives: family, friends, teachers, etc. This holds a certain accountability for you to follow up on your actions with those you confided in. They act almost as guarantors. In having this accountability, it should hopefully be less likely that you should back out on your plan. And in involving other people of a similar goal, you can act as mutual support or even as some friendly competition on your way to attaining your goals.
Granted, these tips are not comprehensive and they are also not foolproof. If things were as simple as Nike makes them out to be and we can “Just Do It”, I reckon we would face fewer time management issues in our everyday lives. However, in this moment, we can try to actively pursue a routine or a method that works well for us in motivating ourselves. It is about time we made a comeback against procrastination.