Northern Alberta Institute of Technology

How to finally start dealing with procrastination

Why put off until tomorrow what you could do today? Because we’re human; it’s what we do.

“Most people do procrastinate,” says Angela Skuba, coordinator of NAIT’s academic support services. She oversees tutoring services and delivers workshops to help students succeed – giving them tips we too may benefit from as we put off dealing with our own procrastination issues.

So, time to get on with it. Here, Skuba tells us what we need to do to face the task at hand and see it through.

Become aware of the problem

Sort out the Who, What, How, When, Where and Why of being unproductive. You'll soon recognize patterns that you can then start to directly address.

  • Who – This may seem obvious, says Skuba, but it's important to recognize it's you who is responsible for your trouble with procrastination.
  • What – Are there certain activities you're more likely to put off? Things you're afraid of, think unimportant, boring or don't understand? Identifying them is essential to your strategy to become more productive.
  • How – When you’re avoiding a job, what are you doing instead? “I know when I was doing my masters,” says Skuba, “if I was cleaning, which I hate, I knew I was really procrastinating.” For you, it may be TV, video games, Facebook whatever. “Once you know what those replacement activities are, you can catch yourself.”
  • When – “People tend to fall into habits where they procrastinate at certain times during the day.” If you’re more likely to get off track in the afternoon, for example, don’t try to work then.
  • Where – Where’s the TV? The video games? The tidying up that suddenly just has to get done? Relocate to wherever they're not.
  • Why – Why you procrastinate – or the type of procrastinator you are – may be at the heart of dealing with the problem. See what we mean below.


Deal with it according to your type

There are 2 types of procrastinators, says Skuba: tense and relaxed. Knowing which one you are can help you get you moving.

  • Tense – This is the perfectionist who gets overwhelmed by the need to get things right. The fear of failure may be paralyzing. Skuba suggests to break down tasks into stages to be completed over time. Set deadlines for each stage so as not to get waylaid by endless refining. Otherwise, “It’s like you're procrastinating on a task with the same task.”
  • Relaxed – “They like to have fun first and do work later,” says Skuba. Relaxed types tend to reward themselves for procrastination. They may also be prone to self-deception. “Sometimes they tell themselves they work better under pressure. You don’t.” If this describes you, set a false deadline with someone who will hold you accountable, she suggests.
     

No, change isn’t easy

For many of us, getting on with things is about developing new habits, which takes time. “It won’t feel comfortable at first,” says Skuba. “Sometimes you have to push through that before it gets easier.”

But the rewards will be worth it. In addition to increased productivity, you’ll reduce stress, she says. ”The sooner you can takes these steps to address your procrastination issues, the sooner the payoff.”


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