As students, and as students will learn again as they start summer internships, and as interns will learn again when they start their first real full time jobs, long term projects with distant deadlines can often be overwhelming and easier to put off until later. Of course, when we put off work and we get into crunch time, we are under a lot more pressure and stress and a lot of times we are surprised by other things that may come up at the same time that we weren’t expecting. We all know this stress could be avoided if we just hadn’t procrastinated but we tell ourselves things like “I work better under pressure” or “I am more creative when it gets closer to the last minute.” The truth is we tell ourselves these things to justify procrastinating but if we were to spend more time on our projects they would definitely be better. There would be less careless mistakes missed due to working too fast or not having time to look back after our work. When projects are finished sooner we can also show our work to others, get feedback, and make improvements.
So how do we pull ourselves away from this bad habit of procrastination? Here are some tips to try out the next time. If working close to a deadline is the name of your game, try setting mini deadlines! Break up the work into small manageable pieces and give yourself hard deadlines to finish each step. For example, you can make checkpoints such as, finish brainstorming ideas and get feedback from mentor, create visuals for presentation, create talking points for presentation, etc. By setting mini goals you can give yourself the pressure of getting close to a deadline but now you have built in time to look back over your work before its due. Another way to keep yourself from procrastinating is by making a commitment to someone else. Get a group of friends or co workers together and make plans to stick to structured work time. If you’ve committed to work time to someone besides yourself it’s must easier to stick to that plan. Finally, a last method of avoiding procrastination is the reward system. This works for large and small tasks and the reward’s size should match the task. For example a large project could be rewarded with a purchase you’ve been wanting to make and a small task could be rewarded with something small like an iced coffee or an hour or two of video games.
There are many ways to trick yourself out of procrastinating. Give them a try and you may find that your work, time management, and stress levels all improve!