How to stop procrastinating


photo via Fulcrum labs

It is that time of year again. Everyone decides to spend the new year trying to rid themselves of all bad habits that consumed their past. Ah yes, the infamous New Year’s resolutions. For some, they may be eating healthier or getting more sleep. Maybe you are trying to waste less time scrolling aimlessly through social media, or, my personal favorite, you want to stop procrastinating. 

With the adoption of remote education and a block schedule, procrastination has arguably plagued schools more than the coronavirus itself. The moment teachers say we can log off Zoom and begin working on an assignment, students are back in bed scrolling through TikTok, leaving assignments until, at best, the night before their due date, leading to some stress-filled evenings. 

Everyone has found themselves subject to procrastination at least once, but probably closer to a million times in their life. We all wait until 11:30 p.m. to start assignments due at 11:59 p.m. We wait until we run out of clothes to do laundry. We wait until the night before to start writing articles due the next day (speaking from personal experience here). However, there may be a solution. 

There’s a common misconception that the timeline for any finished product begins with motivation to begin followed by completion of the task. But, the process of accomplishing anything is actually a loop, not a straight line. This loop begins with action, followed by motivation to continue. Gaining motivation starts with the “do something principle.” Completing even the smallest action can end the seemingly endless cycle of procrastination. 

According to numerous studies, you can finish anything by doing a simple task first, no matter how small it is. Each time we complete something, our brains become more motivated to continue. The key to avoiding procrastination is using the inspiration that comes from the small task and harnessing it to finish the bigger task. Simply putting a worksheet into Notability or opening a Google Doc can create a surge of the motivation needed to actually finish. 

However, the main contributor of procrastination, distractions, do not go away in this method. This is where willpower comes in. Put your phone down. 

Instagram is just full of people smiling on parking decks, you don’t need to like every single one. Sending random pictures back and forth on Snapchat can wait an hour. And those videos of people belting “Drivers License” will still be on TikTok when you’re done. These and every other app acting as a distraction are not worth the panic attack that will inevitably set in five minutes before that assignment is due. 

Trust me, I know this is all easier said than done, but setting good habits now is important. Future you will be grateful. Maybe 2021 is the year New Year’s resolutions actually last.