How do you beat the procrastination bug?

As usual, I have a lot of homework to do tonight and am having an extremely hard time getting motivated to actually do it. This happens to me every time. I had all last week off from school and have waited until now to actually even look at any of the assignments I have due tomorrow. I will almost definitely be getting up early tomorrow to finish everything in time. I always end up finishing it, but through sleep deprivation. It doesn’t have to be this way.

Does this happen to you? Did you somehow manage to beat the bug and find a way to keep motivated? Please share your tips with me.

(Clearly I am already failing, as I am posting on a message board instead of answering critical thinking questions.)

Pick a chore you dislike, say ironing for instance.

Get the ironing board out and set it up, with the iron, and a basket of clothes needing ironing.

Now make a bargain with yourself that the only distraction permitted, from your assignments, is the ironing. Ditto for stopping working, only if you put in 30 mins ironing.

I know people who have used this technique while quitting smoking. When they were ready to break down and have a butt the deal was, 30 mins of ironing first! Clearly it has to be a chore you really dislike and you must have it set up to go.

Good luck! I can’t wait to hear others suggestions too!

Do it now, then goof off. That’s what I do, then I can goof off guilt free. it’s wonderful.

I’ll tell you later.

I also have this problem with procrastination. Unfortunately, I still haven’t found a reliable way to keep it under control. I’ve tried the trick with doing a chore that I hate, but it usually turns out that even cleaning the toilet and bathtub or washing dishes are preferrable to doing any real work.

Are you a fan of the cognitive psychologist Albert Ellis? He has a book called Overcoming Procrastination based on basic cognitive techniques intended to break down the irrational thought processes that lead to procrastination. The techniques are very effective and scientifically valid. I read it several years ago and it worked wonders, but lately I have slipped into some terrible procrastination, therefore I will be re-reading it soon.

Lordy, I’ve wrestled with this for years – and yet I am gainfully employed in a profession that is deadline-driven!

In my case, it has been important for me to figure out what tasks I put off and what I find easy and/or enjoy.

It took me a long time to realize that I tend to procrastinate on tasks that I don’t really understand. Asking for clarification helps sometimes. Sometimes, I just have to dive in and do something. Anything. Once I’ve started, I can stop beating myself up about procrastinating. (I’m going to check out the book olivesmarch4th mentioned.)

I also procrastinate on writing projects. I get hung up on the opening paragraph, the lead, the hook. Two things have really helped me. One is the realization that a writing task NEVER takes me as long as I think it will. I spend far more time dreading and worrying about it than I do on the actual writing. The other is to forget the lead and start writing in the middle. I’ve never been able to write to an outline.

When I have a task that involves real drudgery (and drudgery to me would be tasks that require zero creativity and accuracy to the extent that I can’t mindlessly do the task while chit-chatting with others), I make a schedule. I’ll do A through G today, H through M tomorrow, and N through Z after that.

Hang in there, Kkrose!

Usually I like to work on the procrastination bug in the morning, maybe after some coffee and breakfast. Then I need to take a nap for a while, then maybe I’ll do some cleaning that really needs doing, which requires a short break afterward … you know the drill.

One thing that helps for me is what I call “cracking the problem.” Whatever the work is that I know I’m putting off (and I do know), I promise myself I’ll just have a look. No commitment, I’m not going to start the project, just having a look to see what is involved. This usually involves just reading the assignment and maybe getting materials together. What happens is that sometimes I will get into the project and continue on. Other times I may not get interested but the idea of the work will be planted and my brain can work on a plan as I go about my normal activity. Just remember, the first look at the assignment is just a look - you can stop any time you want and go have a beer - but it is important to have that first look as soon as possible.

I’d love to be able to offer advice but unfortunately I’m reading this thread at the office instead of getting on with work that really should have been done already.

I would say that FaceBook and the SDMB are my two biggest time vampires. The big trick with both of them is that if I’m going to spend an hour a day on them (which is a huge amount of time, really), it’s better to spend 6 periods of 10 minutes each, or 4 periods of 15 minutes each than to spend a solid hour.

The worst aspect of both of these websites is that I say something, and then I kill time compulsively checking to ‘see if anyone has responded yet.’ Whereas, if I can turn off the computer and walk away for 2 or 3 hours, I’ll still have the responses, but I’ve got something done in the meantime.

Me too, but I can still give advice! :slight_smile:

A method I have previously had good luck with is similar to shiftless’ idea. I tell myself that I’m going to spend ten minutes working on the hated task and then I’m free to go. Often, once I’ve gotten started I just keep working, and if not, at least I did something.

Another method that helps me is to plunge into the work first thing in the morning. I’m surprised at how well this works for me, since I consider myself a night owl, but I think it just sets the right tone for the day. What I used to do was come in early and use that alone time to play on the internet, but once you’ve started doing that it’s a whole lot harder to tear yourself away.

Now today, I have a good excuse. It’s Cyber Monday, you see, and I am supposed to be shopping!