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How to push yourself through procrastination

May 20, 2015

OK, so your professor assigns a research paper due next Wednesday.

You have plenty of time, its only Friday. So why not go to Santa Cruz or party this weekend? Oh wait, it’s Monday which means the new season of Mad Men is on Netflix tonight!

Tuesday morning? Why not, it’s the perfect time to start writing, unless something else stops you. Something like cleaning your desk, or checking your email or any other little distraction for that matter.

Just when you thought you had a whole week to do your paper, Wednesday comes around. In addition, you have dark shadows under your eyes, a caffeine overdose and are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. But you work best under pressure don’t you? Oh, of course you do.

Waiting until the last moment to do something important definitely fills you with adrenaline, and whatever result you achieve always seems great. At least, for the time you spend on working.

The question is, how do you know what you could possibly accomplish by giving yourself enough time? You simply don’t.

The first thing you write is never the best. All good writers know it, and so do their shredders. It’s true for anything else: to make something perfect, you need to destroy it first. Several times. Only then can you accomplish the final masterpiece.

This may not be the case for everyone. Maybe you are really talented and smart, and the work you did at the last moment is way better than the one your classmate labored on for weeks.

But to succeed in something, you need to excel yourself, and to do this, it may be necessary to trick your brain.

Procrastination is in our nature, according to Pierce Steel, whom Robbie Gonzalez cited in his article “Why Do We Work Better Under the Pressure.” “It’s working with the future in mind that’s abnormal,” Steel wrote.

This means that even the best of us face the problem of procrastination, and when we do, we tend to come up with quick and amazing solutions.

The closer and more tangible the reward is, the higher the chances are we will accomplish a task, Mitchell Moffit explains in the AsapSCIENCE video on procrastination.

Playing video games or posting photos on Instagram will please you more than working on your term project. So reward yourself for it! Maybe even by procrastinating.

Pomodoro is an old technique where you can set up a timer for 25 minutes and work. After the 25 minutes is up, you get a five-minute break in which you do … nothing. Nothing like browsing Facebook or lying on the floor — whatever makes you feel rewarded.

The brain is more likely to concentrate when it knows that later you’ll have time to browse through that particular link, or play that video game and enjoy that special treat.

There are also apps that make use of this technique. For example the 30/30 app allows you to set up your own time for different tasks and helps create an overall picture of the day — the realistic one.

Working in groups or in an efficient atmosphere can be helpful and rewarding. Our drive to conform can be beneficial when escaping not only predators, but deadlines as well.

Search for your solution to effectively manage procrastination next time you find yourself, well, procrastinating.

Sometimes the slogan “Just Do It” is not enough. Stop waiting until the last moment to start doing things.

Nail it.

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