As a typical human being, we are bound to suffer from the procrastination plague every once in a while (probably only because neural and behavioral sciences have yet to prove the existence of similar conditions in other species as well). Meanwhile, within our own species - from the 4.3 grade point average maniacs of our school to the latest Nobel Prize winners and to even our demanding Calculus professor - I dare say all must have experienced procrastination numerous times. And if that had not made you feel any better, it is probably time I come out and tell you that this editorial piece you are reading is also just a means to put off the 40 pages of Cell Biology I need to read before tomorrow's class. Every now and then, we should all be entitled to procrastination without having to carry the social stigma of lacking will power. However, since most of us tend to embrace our procrastinating nature far too often, I strongly believe that for the sake of our own physical and mental health, we should all have some tricks up our sleeves that can help us resist the urges to procrastinate every time it comes knocking at our doors. With all that being said, below are some procrastination hacks that will hopefully come in handy to you!
Start with the most important task.
What usually happens when we list down a set of things we need to finish is that we do the easiest ones first (which sometimes include checking the newsfeed on Facebook). As the day progresses, we are left with the most time-consuming and gruesome tasks, which we will later on successfully convince ourselves to save for the next day (or the day after that). The simplest way around this would be to start from the heaviest and most important of all the tasks. This ensures that you will feel productive throughout the entire day, despite procrastinating any smaller and more trivial tasks that follows.
Break it down.
Lab reports are perfect examples for this hack. Instead of waiting for the last-minute panic mood to take over, break the assignment up to tinier and less intimidating tasks. Today, write the "Procedures". Tomorrow, calculate the "Results". Weekends, finish up with the "Summary". By dividing a big and uninviting chunk of work into smaller and more approachable pieces, you will be more motivated to start working and be able to enjoy the sense of accomplishment after completing each and every one of them.
People have actually come up with ridiculously effective timing rules in attempt to prevent procrastination. There is a 30-10 Rule, where you will set your timer for 30 minutes, during which you fully concentrate on your targeted task. Once the timer goes off, set it again for 10 minutes, during which you may indulge in a Candy Crush Saga mini game or a phone call to your girlfriend or boyfriend. There is also the famous (10+2)5 Hack, in which 10 minutes is devoted to work, alternated by 2-minute breaks, and all repeated 5 times. Works like a charm!
Get rid of all distractions.
With smartphones and tablet PCs becoming our new 21st century best friends (replacing even the all-time favorite stuffed animal by our beds), our generation is now more than ever prone to procrastination. There is just no possible way to attain full concentration with all the buzzing and ringing of notifications! So next time when you sit down at your desk, turn off your cell phone, or if not, at least switch off the notification mode. If you will be needing your laptop, disconnect the Internet access. Isolate yourself from all these possible temptation. And no, science has proven that you will not die from 30 minutes of media deprivation!
Finally, do not forget to reward yourself after every task well done. It will be like a psychological tick to your imaginary to-do list, a way of making the whole entire process more pleasurable.