7 Proven Ways to Combat Procrastination
We all have things we can push off for a little bit. Then, we suddenly realize that a “little bit” has turned into three months. Then three months turns into three years (or something equally dramatic and detrimental). Look, it’s procrastination. I don’t need to overexplain it. Let’s just get to the list:
Acknowledge You’re Procrastinating
The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one. Since this is procrastination, you may put this step off for a bit. Boring tasks will always be there and, sometimes, you just need to get them done. I mean, all that medical knowledge isn’t going to learn itself. Unless it’s magic medical knowledge – then it most certainly will. When you realize you’ve been procrastinating, then the next steps can begin.
Forgive Yourself – Because Your GPA Won’t
So you procrastinated. If you beat yourself up about it, it’s only going to send you back into a perpetual cycle of procrastination. Then bad things happen like your GPA plummeting and people yelling at you for not filling the gas tank when you clearly should’ve a couple of days ago because Randy said it would be a good idea to do it then but then you were like nah we can gas up in a couple days.
Anyway, forgiveness has been scientifically proven to be the best way to fight procrastination. Of course, preventing procrastination from occurring in the first place is another matter entirely.
Remove Distractions – Flappy Bird can wait
Good news about the 21st Century: we have some of the most advanced medical technology available. Bad news: we also have the most distractions. Your iPhone alone probably has a million different ways to keep you from studying for that exam. Solution: turn it off. Avoid these distractions for as long as—hey, there’s a Steam sale happening right now? Hold on a sec.
Back. What was I writing? Oh, yeah. Distractions. You should get rid of them. That’s not to say you should eliminate them entirely, though.
Remember what I wrote above? Well, this is when you can bring those distractions back in. Rewards in intervals are a great way to be more productive. Watch that episode of Game of Thrones everyone’s been telling you about. Drink a glass of red wine while petting a red panda. Enjoy the simple pleasures in life after successfully completing a task. It will encourage you to complete a task more quickly. Remember: these are intervals. Don’t let that snowball into a surprise vacation from reality.
Know Your Limits
You know how most people cram? By staying up all night and playing Super Smash Brothers. Yes, you need to get a lot of stuff done soon, but setting unrealistic goals for yourself is one of the root causes of procrastination. Get in touch with yourself and see what schedule works best with you. Don’t copy a study strategy because it worked for someone else. Do what works for you.
Prioritize – Set Micro and Macro Goals
Setting deadlines for yourself is a good start but you need to breakdown your priorities further. Create micro goals for things you can accomplish in the short-term and macro goals for things you can accomplish over time. Micro goals can be something along the lines of “I should probably cook these eggs.” Macro goals can be something along the lines of “I really should open an egg-related business.” Just put it all in a list and rank them based on what needs to be done sooner. [Note: Some goals may be too macro, such as opening up that egg-related business in a Jurassic Park.]
Just Keep Swimming
If you have the momentum working with you on a task, don’t stop. You’re in the zone and, if you commit to another task right now, you might fall back into your old ways. Jerry Seinfeld has a great system based on this theory. Find a calendar and cross off the goals you completed each day with a big red “X.” When you don’t complete a goal, you don’t cross that day off. Essentially, you’ve broken that chain.
Procrastination will always be there. You’ll inevitably put off certain tasks. As long as you keep that calendar full of Xs, you should be fine. Or you just put off putting the X’s on there that month. Yeah, that’s it.
Survival Guide for First Year Medical Students – Study Strategies