Happens to the best of us
One of the best things about online study has to be flexibility. But sometimes, being master of your own time can mean it’s tempting to let things slide… and procrastination is a slippery slope! We’ve rounded up some tried and tested tips to push through and get the job done.
One bite at a time
Sure, deciding that today is the day you organise your tax return sounds reasonable. Right? Turns out, that ambitious task is rather daunting. Unpack any big task into steps; small items you can write down and cross off when complete. You’ll gain traction after the first couple – say, reviewing bank statements and scanning receipts – and charge on, buoyed by what you’re getting done.
About that list…
The 1-3-5 trick means you choose one big thing, three medium things, and five little things to accomplish each day. Starting with something small can be just the nudge you need, or maybe you’d like to get in there and smash out the biggest task first up. You do you.
Mastering the right kind of goals
Yes, it’s great to have goals to work towards – consider setting mastery goals, not performance goals. Basically, performance goals are shaped in terms of showing that you can do it, or doing better than others, while mastery goals are about learning for your own benefit and enjoyment. Mastery goals come with an unrivalled sense of satisfaction upon completion and the focus is on learning, improving and developing your skill and understanding.
Adopt a growth mindset
Procrastination lurks in tasks that you believe you can’t do well, or you’re unsure how to do. If you’re lacking the confidence to complete it, switch up your attitude: I will get better, not I can’t do this. A growth mindset starts with the belief that your skills and abilities can be developed with effort, learning and practice. Face your challenges: they’re chances to learn and evolve.
Race the clock
The often lauded Pomodoro Technique uses a timer to break work into manageable chunks, usually 25 minutes long, punctuated by short five-minute breaks. The short burst of focus will boost your productivity with a sense of urgency. Of course, there are several apps for this – try Be Focused, Pomotodo and Pomodoro Keeper – or simply set your kitchen or phone timer. Find 25 minutes daunting? Tackle something for just five minutes and see if you can get stuck into it.
Get up and move
Smart watches give a reminder to stand every hour for good reason. Five minutes of fresh air can invigorate, so can a bit of stretching or a walk around the block. YouTube is packed with five-minute desk workouts. A meditation app like Insight Timer can help to stop, reflect and reset. Even just a change of scenery can be the boost you need: take your laptop to the library, sit outside to watch a webinar or set up in your favourite cafe to grab a coffee and get some work done.
Bring out the big guns
Did a 10-minute Facebook break just turn into a one-hour social media blitz? This one will hurt. Block nominated websites during certain times with a browser extension, like Block Site for Chrome. Freedom for Chrome and LeechBlock (Chrome and Firefox) both allow access, but will limit the time you can spend on your favourite distracting sites. Consider setting up a separate profile on your computer with these restrictions. Or, if you’re a Mac user, the Hocus Pocus app allows you to view only one window at a time. And if you find yourself constantly reaching for phone notifications and messages, turn on airplane mode.
Done is better than perfect
Sometimes all it takes is a gentle reminder to manage our own expectations, too. Some things just don’t need as much work as you think – don’t labour over something straightforward or (relatively) insignificant. Besides, you just might find that when you get that pesky task crossed off, it took you much less time than anticipated.