Procrastination : The Enemy of Achievement

Yesterday marked the first day, of the first week of the Monash Semester two exam period.

In an ideal world, the exam period would be stress free because students were on top of their studies and prepped for their exams.

For most students, this isn’t the reality. Because life is full of challenges and distractions competing for your time and attention.

Whether you’re a student, a founder, or juggling a family, chances are you’d be very familiar with one the biggest achievement killers of all - our old friend, procrastination.

In extreme cases, procrastination can even lead to a student not completing their tertiary degree, or the imminent doom of a founder’s startup.

Before you feel guilty about how much you procrastinate, it’s important to understand that it’s not really your fault. The human brain is wired to value immediate rewards more highly than long-term rewards.

So learning to be more efficient with your time isn’t so much about fighting your biology and stopping procrastination, it’s about learning how to work with it.

Here are five tips to get you started:


1 - Reward yourself for doing tasks you don’t want to do.

Dopamine is a chemical released by our brain which motivates us through a sense of pleasure and reward. Find out more HERE.

Essentially;

completion of task + pleasure/rewards = motivation

So start combining a rewards with tasks that you need to do.

For example - only watch your favourite Netflix series after you’ve completed 4 hours of deep study/work.


2 - Plan ahead

Planning ahead helps us to;

  • Know where to start the day and task.
  • Focus on single tasks (vs multi-task).
  • Allocate an achievable list of tasks for the day.
  • Reduce stress by having clarity around our follow day’s work.
  • Prioritise (effort vs outcomes).

We at the Generator found that planning our to-do list the night before can help to reduce stress, increase efficiency and help us get a good night's’ rest free of worry.

Planning can be as simple as a to-do list on paper, or a detailed breakdown of time in your Google Calendar.


3 - Make tasks clearer and more achievable

For many people, tackling a mammoth task is the breeding ground for procrastination. Because there is no clear starting point, steps to completion, time frame or imminent reward. It’s just an overwhelming lump.

So break down large tasks into small, specific and manageable tasks, and make sure you tick them off as you go.


4 - Block out your time.

When large and stressful tasks are due, people often set aside all of their waking hours to finishing the task.

When this occurs, our work efficiency often reduces significantly, and we tend to de-prioritise our mental and physical health. Neither of which are helpful for us or achieving what we need to.

Here’s a great way to tackle this;

  1. Plan in advance (points 2 & 3).
  2. Plan 5-6 hours in a day of deep, focused work. (best at the start of your day).
  3. Plan 1-2 hours in a day of activities for your health (meditate, exercise, healthy meal prep) before or after work.
  4. The rest of the time is free time, so do something fun and rewarding.

If you can, avoid your phone, emails, social media and meetings during deep work.


5 - Prioritise, prioritise, prioritise

Let’s face it, there’s usually more to do in this life than we have time for. This also applies to study, work or building a startup.

So the art of prioritisation really takes three things:

  1. Figuring out which tasks are important and rank them.
  2. Work out what you can realistically do in the time you have.
  3. Saying no to what’s not a priority, or you don’t have time for.

Learning to prioritise well takes time and experience, so be patient. All the more reason to start now!

If you need some help prioritising, check THIS ARTICLE out.