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New Year's Resolutions: Procrastinate Less

Date:01 January 2019
A product of my procrastination skills: pretending to be a wizard
A product of my procrastination skills: pretending to be a wizard

Just like every New Years, I have a set of resolutions that, in an ideal world, I will follow through on. Except, some of these have been on my list for at least the past 3 years. This year, instead of only focussing on a long list of resolutions, I’ve decided to create a simple step-by-step backup plan to make sure I follow through on my top priority resolution:

Procrastinate Less

I already fail at this every time a new block starts and I promise myself I’ll stay on top of my work this time. Then by the time exam weeks hit I just tell myself that “I work better under pressure anyway”, and “I guess this is just what was meant to happen”.

So what exactly do I mean with procrastinate less? I want to start working on my deadlines earlier and not have heart-attack inducing stress levels every exam season. Now that I’ve specified in what area I want my procrastinating skills to take the back seat, time to come up with a plan that’ll ensure I’ll follow through.

Step 1: Figure out my main procrastination sources.

If I isolate what my main distractions are, then I can work on getting rid of these distractions in my working environment. So this step isn’t that hard. I have a problem with all things internets related. If I have an essay due, why not look through facebook? If not social media related distractions, then it’s related to a new game I’ve recently downloaded.

Even when I pretend to try to work and do research my brain thinks things like: you know what would be relevant? This thing I saw on youtube once… Now that I’ve pinpointed this as my problem area I need to work on getting rid of these distractions.

Step 2: Get rid of my procrastination sources.

The main thing for me here would be to get rid of Netflix, youtube and all movie-related things as a distraction. The fastest way to do that would be to throw out my laptop and all electronic devices and get to work in a prehistoric type of landscape.

The next best thing knowing that I need my laptop for 99% of my assignments is to close the millions of tabs that are open in my browser and start my work with a clean slate.

I’ll also install “Freedom”, “Self-Control”, “RescueTime” and similar apps which are supposed to help with my productivity.

  • Freedom and Self-Control block different websites on my blacklist for a certain amount of time to ensure that I can’t access websites that usually distract me.
  • RescueTime gives you a detailed analysis on how you spend your time right down to the minute, so this will give me a much-needed self-intervention moment.

My thought process here is that if I’m faced with hard data related to how much time I actually waste on games and social media I’ll shock myself into productivity.

Step 3: Create a space where I can sit down to work.

Now that I (in theory) have a distraction-free safe zone, I will create a list of all the deadlines that are coming up and schedule in time to work on them productively. Apps that I’ve found to be useful in this regard are:

  • Google keep: helps you keep track of to-do lists, keep track of ideas and colour code the notes and lists.
  • Proud: lets you make to-do lists, keep track of important notes, and even schedule in study times and breaks as well.
  • One Big Thing: this helps you pinpoint your biggest task you want to accomplish for the day.
  • Basecamp: lets you make to-do lists, plan in working times, create documents, and plan out your work-flow in general.

Step 4: Treat yo’ self

I personally work well knowing I’ll reward myself with something afterwards, even if it’s just a coffee. This gives short-term positive reinforcement of my new rules and long-term decreased stress-rates (at least that’s the plan) - I only see positives to this.

With this simple 4-step plan, I’ll hopefully actually manage to get most of my assignments done without the usual amount of stress! I definitely need to work something out with my scheduling since I have basically all my essay deadlines this upcoming exam season due in the same week.

This is my plan on following through on my New Years Resolution to stop procrastinating and work productively. Share your pro-tips on how to follow through on your new year’s resolutions. 

About the author

Hi! My name’s Marije, and I study English Language and Culture. I’m half Dutch half German, but I grew up in Africa (starts thinking of suitable Mean Girls quotes to reference). When I’m not out, studying or writing something, I’m inside, wrapped in a blanket binge watching a new tv-show.


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