How do you stop procrastinating?

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I find that I procrastinate most about the tasks I dislike doing, and I think it's likely that is true of most people. Therefore, one of my most successful methods of dealing with procrastination is to first do the task that I least want to do. This has two advantages. ...

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I find that I procrastinate most about the tasks I dislike doing, and I think it's likely that is true of most people. Therefore, one of my most successful methods of dealing with procrastination is to first do the task that I least want to do. This has two advantages.  First, the task I have procrastinated about is done, and second, for the rest of my day, I do not have that task hanging over my head, draining my energy and making me feel guilty about what is undone.  For example, when I practiced law, I never minded doing research and writing briefs, but I hated to write boilerplate complaints and answers.  So I always got those out of the way.  Now that I teach, I find that I dread having to grade handwritten work, as opposed to work that is typed.  I do the handwritten quizzes first and then reward myself with the typed quizzes.  When you have schoolwork to do, first do the work you like the least. You will be amazed at how much more productive you are. 

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It’s pretty easy to procrastinate. When the clock’s ticking, however, getting a task completed on time is critical. Here are three tips for beating the urge to procrastinate.

  1. Set a series of deadlines. Break down a larger task into steps. For example, if you have a 3,000-word paper to write, create the outline first. Once the outline’s done, get up stretch, and move to the second step. Reasonable steps would be one section per task.
  2. Find a quiet place where distractions are limited. If you’re the type to get distracted by the Internet or Facebook, leave your cell phone behind. Turn off unnecessary programs. If you don’t need the internet for your work, turn off your router or modem while you work.
  3. Don’t wait till the last minute. Once you’re assigned a job or project, start tackling it when you have some free time. If you’re given a week to complete an essay, work for a small amount of time each night.

By breaking tasks into reasonable chunks and getting started immediately, you don’t feel the pressure as the deadline nears. Having a good head start reduces stress and makes you less likely to procrastinate.

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