I, Sierra Elmore, am a master procrastinator. I give myself a seemingly easy schedule every day with plenty of breaks, an hour to fully wake up, and ample time to play around on my laptop.
And guess what? I hardly ever finish the schedule as planned. I get distracted by whatever book I’m devouring at the moment, or by blogs and social media. Although things get done eventually, and usually at the last minute, I always end up feeling majorly stressed out.
I know that I’m not the only one, especially in college. Here’s my plan to procrastination in its tracks and transform myself into a productive, on-task, schedule-following student. Really.
- Delete Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Stumbleupon, YouTube, etc. from your bookmarks. Right now.
As much as I love how connected the world is because of social media, sometimes I curse the Mark Zuckerbergs, Jack Dorseys, and David Karps of the world because, thanks to them, I can’t get any work done. I’ve found that if it’s not there, you won’t think about it. So purge distracting websites from your bookmarks bar, unless you genuinely need them for work. And don’t tell me that searching for cat videos on YouTube is work.
- Block it and track it, but don’t go back to it.
If you need a little more incentive to discipline yourself, then your only choice is to go Cold Turkey, which blocks certain websites (or even all network access). Trust me, it’s a lifesaver. For a set amount of time every day, I block sites that suck up the majority of my working hours. I usually do this when I’m writing essays or completing freelance design work. And the best part is you can’t block Cold Turkey. It’s a basically unworkaroundable piece of software. So I have no choice but to just sit down and get busy.
To further the benefits of Cold Turkey, I track my browsing/application activity with RescueTime, which runs in my computer background. At the end of the week, I get a nice report delivered to my email that breaks down how productive I was that week. I take the report and add any new distracting websites/blogs identified into my Cold Turkey blocked sites list.
- Clear your inbox. Do it. Right now.
You’ve probably heard of the Inbox Zero program, where you archive and file away all of your emails at one time until by the end of the day, you have a nice, empty box to admire. I tried it, but it doesn’t work for me, since I need to keep certain emails up as reminders or to be read at the end of the day. I do, however, try to keep my inbox down to less than 10 emails at a time.
Yes, it’s possible. I use a “three strikes” unsubscribe system. I check the last three newsletters received and if they just waste my time, I immediately hit the unsubscribe link. Boom. Done with that.
These tips may not eliminate your procrastination habits altogether, but they’re like a Starbucks coffee: giving a quick hit of energy when you desperately need it. Keep them in your arsenal for when you need to complete that 2-week-late project, write a paper on deadline, or to simply clean up your digital life.
Now, go forth and conquer.