Whether you’re in high school, college or even completing your Masters degree or an online course, procrastination is your worst enemy.
You know that your exam, deadline or audition is looming, and yet you just can’t figure out how to stop procrastinating and start studying.
You’ve opened every single social media app on your phone, refreshed them until there’s nothing new on your feed, and yet you’re still finding excuses not to just start doing what you need to do.
In the throes of procrastination you’ll find yourself doing all kinds of weird things.
Maybe you decide to put your book collection in alphabetical order, or go down a Reddit conspiracy theories rabbit hole, or maybe you decide that now is the perfect time to declutter your closet.
You would never normally do these things, but all of a sudden you find yourself doing them just to avoid the inevitable.
You know that procrastination doesn’t make anything better, but you can’t stop.
‘How do I stop being lazy and procrastinating?’ you might be asking yourself.
In this post we will discuss one simple hack that you can try if you’re wondering how to stop procrastinating and start studying.
How to Stop Procrastinating and Start Studying
What is Procrastination?
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re already a pro at procrastinating, but just in case you stumbled here by accident, here’s a definition.
Procrastination is, in the simplest terms, putting off something that needs to be done.
What is the main cause of procrastination?
Well, procrastination often occurs when there is a deadline looming, and even though you know you really need to get started with the task at hand, you find yourself putting things off until the very last minute (these people are severe procrastinators), or delaying getting started for hours or days longer than you should (less severe procrastination).
No matter how severe your tendency to procrastinate is, there are lots of drawbacks to procrastination.
However, procrastination is not a mental illness and it can be easily overcome.
The Main Disadvantages of Procrastination
- Unnecessary stress – what happens in our brains when we procrastinate? Well, when you put things off until the last minute, you become stressed and may experience headaches, stomach pains and tension in your neck and back.
- Low quality work – procrastination often means that your work pays the price. If you’re completing an assignment, your work may be sloppy and rushed, and if you’re revising for a test, you might find it difficult to take as much information in due to the stress and lack of time you have. This can lead to a result that is much lower than what you’re really capable of.
- Your time is wasted – you don’t usually get anything productive or fun done when you’re procrastinating. Chances are you just waste hours scrolling on TikTok and end up wondering where the day went.
- Low self-esteem – one of the biggest disadvantages of procrastination is that you end up blaming yourself and feeling guilty that you didn’t get anything done. You think of yourself as lazy and might end up feeling imposter syndrome.
- Things begin to mount up – because you didn’t get the first task done, this then causes a knock-on effect and you might wind up not getting the second, or even third tasks done either. This then turns into a huge pile of things that you need to get done, and you end up feeling overwhelmed and incapable.
Eat That Frog – How to Stop Procrastinating and Start Studying
‘If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.’
This famous quote by Mark Twain has been made even more famous by Brian Tracy’s book, ‘Eat That Frog.’
Although Tracy’s book actually includes 21 ways to stop procrastinating and ‘get more done in less time,’ the title describes the concept of doing the biggest, hardest or most unpleasant important task on your list first thing each day.
This way you’re not procrastinating and worrying about getting it done.
Think of it like this: if you have to eat a frog, it’s best not to stare at it for too long and think about the task ahead.
You’ll have to do it anyway, so you may as well dive in and get it done!
How to Eat That Frog
Set Up Your Day the Night Before
The best way to eat that frog and set yourself up for a successful day is by investing a few minutes into creating an evening routine where you can review your goals and map out 3-5 tasks for the following day.
Ideally, there are no more than 3 tasks on your list, because too many tasks will overwhelm you.
The next step is to determine which of these tasks is the most important – figure out which one is going to have the greatest positive impact on your life (or the most negative impact if you don’t do it!).
This task is the first one to tackle the next day (i.e. the frog you need to eat).
Don’t put it off until the afternoon, or try to get away with doing the easiest or shortest or most unimportant tasks first – despite what you might think, that’s still a form of procrastination!
You’re eating the biggest, meanest, ugliest frog first and then the rest of your day will be a breeze.
The mental energy that you use trying to procrastinate the completion of that one most difficult task will far outweigh the energy you would use if you just dived in and got it done as soon as your work/study day begins.
Once that first most task is completed, you move onto the next one on your list and then the third one and so on.
Every task that you complete will give you a sense of pride and accomplishment, and if you don’t manage to complete all the tasks, you can start your next day with those.
The positive side of this is that even if you don’t get as much done as you’d hoped, you’ve got the most important things out of the way, and you can sleep easy knowing that you can tie up the loose ends in the morning.
Don’t Be a Multi-Tasker
The worst thing that you can try and do is multi-task.
Multi-tasking has been proven to be detrimental to productivity and the act of switching between tasks causes significant loss of time and focus.
Focus on completing one task at a time and don’t move on to the next until you’ve totally finished.
Not only will this enable you to be more productive overall, but you will also find it much easier to stay organised and keep on top of what you need to do.
When you take the time to organise how you’ll work to reach your goal in this way, your inevitable success is just around the corner.
How to Stop Procrastinating and Start Studying | Final Thoughts
Hopefully this article has helped you destress a little and find a way to stop procrastinating and start studying.
If you’re reading this in the morning and don’t want to wait until tomorrow to get started, don’t worry – simply make your list now and start by eating the frog and getting that ugliest task out of the way first.