ForumGeneral Discussion ► I Have a Problem With Procrastinating.
It's gotten a bit too hot for me to handle lately with the studying habits I've adopted over the years. I can't allow myself to lose complete nights of sleep as often as I do to simply not being able to work on an especially daunting essay or research paper. Last week was the real kicker. I somehow managed to force myself to finish a collection of sources and research notes that was assigned a month ago 3 days before it was due. If anyone has any advice I'd really appreciate it!
You could try what I do: convince yourself that you’re actually going to die or become an abject failure (whichever is easier to convince yourself of at the time) if you don’t do what you’re assigned as soon as you get it or study what you just had a lecture on.
something that helps me is to pretend i'm in a movie where they do that study scene, with crossed legs and a sharp pencil and two textbooks open
You could try what I do: convince yourself that you’re actually going to die or become an abject failure (whichever is easier to convince yourself of at the time) if you don’t do what you’re assigned as soon as you get it or study what you just had a lecture on.

i was suggested this by another person too but i just am not able to get myself into that mindset no matter how hard i try
Do it five minutes at a time. You can do anything for five minutes.
yeah and then i do youtube for 50 :(
Idk about others but I had to drag myself kicking and screaming to get over my procrastination. It's still a challenge today but the more you push through it the easier it gets. Too bad I was 20 when I discovered that.

It fucking sucked and was not easy but the earlier you tackle it the better in the long run. You will also have ups and downs.

... Maybe I just need ADHD treatment. That's a post for a different thread.
I find that it helps to think about it not as needing to sit down and focus for X amount of time, but instead to just START something, and focus on keep coming back to it when you inevitably get distracted. Distractions are neutral, but it's a good thing to be proud of when you go back to the thing you were doing.
i already got over procrastination, look at me go!!! i have no work to do
Some things that help me (work in progress though):

First and foremost if you find yourself telling yourself you need to do something. But you don’t know why you can’t just fuckin do it. You gotta ask yourself why? Is it because the task is too ambiguous? Are you feeling anxiety about the deadline? Or do you feel too little urgency about your tasks? Is it because your mind is not in a state ready for doing the work (eg im watching YouTube and want to keep watching YouTube bcuz I’m feelin smolbrain rn and don’t want to think)? Are you feeling tired? Once you stop and think about why you’re feeling that way. Then you can better figure out how to fix it, like:

  • If the thing you’re trying to do is too ambiguous, write everything down that needs to happen for this thing ur doing, be as concrete and specific as possible, and break it down into as small tasks as possible
  • Estimate times for each task, make sure you give some buffer (if you frequently underestimate time, double or triple your initial time estimate, or start tracking your estimates vs time how long it actually took, see if there are any patterns). Also pay attention to how much physical or mental energy a task will take out of you. We talk a lot about how we have limited time in a day, not a lot about how we only have a limited amount of energy too
  • Create some kind of calendar that has ur deadline on it, and map out when you’ll do what task. If it gets to the time u said you’d do the task and you don’t want to do it or can’t do it for whatever reason, resolve it in your calendar by moving things around. You’re allowed to procrastinate sometimes, as long as you plan around your procrastination
  • If you have trouble with a sense of urgency, create a sense of urgency by creating your own concrete deadlines. If you still can’t stick to your own deadlines because it’s not enough urgency, get someone else to be your judgement fella. Like tell someone else you’re finishing milestone A by next week and then have your assumption of their judgement if u don’t do it be ur urgency
  • If you’re having trouble actually starting a task, you can try using a body double - someone you make plans with where it’s like “I’ll work on my thing and u work on your thing” doesn’t necessarily have to be a classmate doing the same project, could be anyone that has some sort of work to do that you work next to
  • If you’re feeling too “lazy” to start tasks, your brain is probably just in a low energy state - like if you’re watching YouTube or Netflix or idly browsing social media, your brain isn’t very engaged, and it might be hard to make your brain WANT to do something that requires more power from there. So instead think of something that can get you to a better energy level. Maybe telling yourself that you’re going to put away 5 dishes from the dishwasher, and actually doing so (success breeds success, and no success is too small). Maybe getting up and playing an instrument for an hour. Maybe exercising before you start working. Maybe doing a puzzle. Just make sure whatever it is, you hit the sweet spot of “jazzes me up enough to leave me feeling good afterwards, not too much that I can’t stop what I’m doing because it’s too fun (see video games)”
  • Another important thing if you’re having trouble starting or continuing tasks is to look at your energy levels. Are you tired/burnt out? If you’re tired, best thing to do is probably just take a proper rest. Depending on how tired, either a full nights sleep + continue in the morning, or, take an effective break that will set you up for working when you get back (see above)
  • Stay on top of self care, taking care of yourself will make it easier to not procrastinate. Yes it’s circular because procrastinating may worsen your self care habits and vice versa. Getting a full high quality nights sleep, exercising, eating good food, spending time on your hobbies/friends, whatever fulfills your spiritual needs, etc

Most importantly, really really think about your mental health. What is the effect of the procrastination on your life? Is whatever that is causing your procrastination affecting you elsewhere? Most (if not all? I’m not a psychologist) diagnoses in the DSM have the very important qualifier of this issue is negatively impacting my life. Now I can’t comment on the extent to which it does, but your mental health is VERY important for improving your work habits (and other things as well). Putting aside ADHD (for now) which obviously causes rampant procrastination, if you have to deal with the mental burden of, for example, depression, it can be very hard to focus on tasks at hand. It will take a lot of mental energy from you. Seeking mental health care if you do have a mental health issue will provide you with a much better baseline and will make it a lot easier to succeed. Just to note that depression, anxiety, and insomnia (and I imagine more things) are all well known to cause issues with focus that can impact procrastination.

Last but not least the elephant in the room, ADHD, because you describe procrastinating until the very last moment until the adrenaline kicks in and enables you to power through and finish the thing in time. Where, and I’m just projecting here so I may be wrong, the adrenaline(or whatever other stress hormone sue me I’m not a endocrinologist) suddenly gives you that desperately needed burst of clarity that enables you to finally focus on the task at hand and you can single mindedly complete that project and then feel like kinda shit afterwards but kinda relieved because you managed to finish and submit your thing (and now the anxiety of “why the hell am I telling myself 100 times in one day I need to do the thing and internally screaming at myself because why can’t I just do the damn thing, and ending the day having accomplished nothing except self loathing” is gone), but you know you probably could’ve done better if you hadn’t procrastinated. Ya I mean I assume because you mentioned a paper you’re in college/uni, which often has mental health resources available covered by tuition, so if you think ADHD is a problem maybe check it out. If you do have it, maybe you will take meds which helps a lot, maybe you won’t, but either way you will need to learn better strategies for dealing with it. After I got diagnosed and I started taking meds, even the lowest dose (because titration) immediately like greatly lowered how anxious, depressed, insomnia having I was (even if that dosage didn’t help my focus). Which gave me a much better baseline to figure my life out. Ofc my dosage now helps my focus a lot. But what I also needed was to understand how and why things were happening and how to deal with those things better. For me meds without having the proper strategies got me some of the way there, and meds enabled me to be able to learn proper strategies to be more effective with or without meds. Oh an most importantly, because screw working, having the depression, anxiety, and insomnia issues like all gone has improved my quality of life by a shit ton (weirdest side effect of ADHD for me as it turns out? Procrastistineating. Or if I’m not using food as an excuse not to work, just being a snack monster even though I’m not hungry 🧐 bruh my stomach literally hurts from being too full y u want to eat like you have the munchies ur not even high). As much as it sucks to have to deal with the ADHD, at least I don’t have to deal with the rest. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ And I’m getting better at managing the ADHD day by day so good on me 😁
thank you very much for the response, cool7girl7
I should be doing my 5 assignments right now
A method I try is to do something that excites you, like e.g playing a game for a short bit. After you start to sense that you're bored, go do the work. You'll be too bored by the game to the point in which you have to lower your standards to do the work.

Quite simple on paper, a bit complicated in practice, but it does the job, and that's all that matters.
what a profile picture
you must be new

thanks for the advice though
Some things I learned from ILS:
  • Some people do better by themselves, but a lot of people get more done with someone else there. Ofc this doesn't always work. Personally I'm really distractable with other people around, but some people do a lot better with an accountabilibuddy. Just like arrange a study date with someone or have someone around to hold you to the task you want to do. Tell them "This is what I want to get done. When can we do this together?" When I was working ILS, there were so many times when clients asked for my help only to end up taking over most of the work. Oftentimes the hardest part is getting started.
  • On that note, it can be really helpful to set easy and obtainable goals. A trick I found when I was doing ILS was when someone had a goal, but rarely actually wanted to do it was to just lower the bar we start at. I'd say "let's just spend 15 minutes cleaning" and usually we ended up spending more than 15 minutes. You can also trick yourself in the same way. "I'll just read 5 pages for now" or "I'll just fill out the basic info on this form." Usually, once you get going, you can surprise yourself with your own progress and ability. Again, starting is often the hardest part.
  • And then like another thing about that last point: doing something is almost always better than doing nothing. Like "my house is still a mess, but I cleared out my kitchen." Work. "I added a single sentance to my essay." You go king. That's one sentence you don't have to write in the future.
  • Breaks are absolutely essential. It's a basic tenet of cognitive psychology that breaks and rewards are the way to accomplish tasks. I think the best way to break up is to reward for amount of work done. So like 5 pages=1 YouTube video or something. I used to reward myself with cigarettes but that's not really good. The breakdown is always going to be dependent on you, your situation, and your limits. It's the sort of thing to figure out as you go, but something that can structure your study sesh. You can also do a time structure, like 30 minutes - 30 minutes or whatever works. I find this less effective, but it still works.
  • I'll echo cool girl a bit and say that yes it is psychologically sound advice to really reflect on your goals, why you want to get them done, but also what's holding you back. This is tied to Motivational Interviewing, which is a newer practice but it is empirically valid and taking the mental health spheres by storm especially for things like ILS. Usually it's more like a counselor is using MI techniques on the client, but like all therapeutic methods, learning about it can be helpful in and of itself.
Soz y'all. The quote button is right next to the edit button.
I have a white board in my bedroom beside my door.

I make a list. I mark out what I accomplish.

If it's something I really don't want to do I break up the list.

Clean the house becomes:
Catch up laundry
Organize shoes
Vacuum babies' room.
Change mattress dressings
Organize pantry.
i make to do lists as well but i find that for me personally the long daunting list of things still left to do only seems more monumental a task and therefore unincentivizes me to get started
Forum > General Discussion > I Have a Problem With Procrastinating.