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I Overcame My Habit of Procrastinating to Finish Everything Before Time, Here’s How

I Overcame My Habit of Procrastinating to Finish Everything Before Time, Here's How

Let me paint a picture of my former self for you: the ultimate procrastinator who believed that completing tasks at the very last minute still counted as “getting them done.” An assignment due at 11:59 p.m. on a Friday night? You’d catch me hitting the submit button at 11:58 p.m. in the middle of a pregame. Need to buy a gift for a friend’s birthday party? I’d convince myself I could pick something up on the way, panic when I couldn’t find the perfect present, and show up late. Receive a text message? I’d promise to respond later and then accidentally leave you on read for two weeks. This was my modus operandi for about the first two decades of my life. While it somehow worked for me during that time, it reached a point where it became unsustainable for my increasingly busy life as a “real adult.” I knew I had to overhaul my horrendous time management skills, and that’s where these transformative tips come in.

Simplify Your To-Do List:

I quickly learned the power of keeping a simple to-do list. Instead of overwhelming myself with a laundry list of tasks, I’ve honed the skill of identifying what’s truly important and adding smaller tasks later. I used to have over 15+ items on my daily agenda, which would send me into a panic. But now, with just a handful of must-dos, I feel more motivated to tackle less critical tasks like laundry or dishes.

Establish a Productive Morning Routine:

Mornings set the tone for the day, and I’ve come to realize the importance of a productive start. You don’t need to become a morning person overnight, but starting your day in a way that makes you feel your best can boost your motivation to stay on top of tasks. For me, it’s all about rising early, making my bed, staying hydrated, and taking a quick morning stroll.

Create a “Work” Playlist:

I might have an unconventional method, but it’s something I absolutely swear by. Music quietly playing in the background helps me focus, whether I’m writing or organizing my closet. However, I noticed that when I shuffled songs, I constantly changed and skipped tracks, breaking my flow. So, I meticulously curated a playlist specifically for work, filled with songs that I enjoy but don’t distract me. It’s become my theme music for productivity.

Avoid Overworking:

Overworking can lead to burnout and, ironically, procrastination. I used to fear losing focus, so I’d refuse to take breaks. But that strategy only made me anxious and resentful toward my tasks. Now, I’ve learned to adjust my to-do list for the next day if I don’t accomplish as much as I’d hoped, rather than forcing myself to work late into the night. We’re only human, and balance is crucial for maintaining our sanity.

Use the Pomodoro Technique:

The Pomodoro Technique has become one of my most valuable tools for battling procrastination. It involves breaking work into focused 25-minute intervals, followed by a short five-minute break. This structured approach maintains my sense of urgency and focus without overwhelming me. Short bursts of work help me concentrate and manage my tasks effectively.

Tackle the Most Daunting Task First:

I used to fall into the trap of doing a myriad of mundane tasks to feel productive while avoiding important ones. By shifting my approach, I now tackle the biggest and most significant tasks at the beginning of the day. This ensures that the tasks I dread most are completed when I’m most energetic, leaving ample time for other activities.

Understand Your Productivity Rhythms:

Understanding your productivity rhythms, or your chronotype, is a key element of efficient time management. I used to push work to late nights, struggling to stay awake and inevitably doing a subpar job. Realizing I’m more productive in the mornings, I now aim for an earlier start. Listen to your body to determine when you’re most productive.

Alternate Between Tasks:

While I sometimes need to focus on a single task, there are days when switching between two tasks helps maintain productivity. For instance, I apply the Pomodoro Technique, dedicating one interval to writing and the next to chores. This keeps me engaged even when I feel I can’t finish a task.

Remove Distracting Apps:

Initially, I tried keeping my phone in a different room while working, but it wasn’t practical. I need my phone for various work-related tasks. However, I was easily distracted by social media apps. To combat this, I started temporarily deleting these apps during my peak working hours. Revisiting them at the end of the day felt like a rewarding treat.

Prioritize Self-Care and Nutrition:

With a busy schedule, it’s easy to forget about meals and hydration. I used to find myself racing against the clock, realizing it was 2 PM, and I hadn’t eaten. It led to energy crashes and focus loss. Now, I prioritize meals and snacks and keep a gallon bottle of water on my desk to maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day.

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