Hold on—I gotta check Facebook just one more time before I finish this sentence. OK, I’m back. So! Procrastination: It’s bad.
Most of us want to be efficient, but time after time we find the day melting away as we watch “just one more” TV episode or click on “just one more” video of baby animals.
Good news! Procrastination isn’t just in your head. Experts have found that making some tweaks to the way you work can make it easier to buckle down.
Breaking up is easy to do
A task can seem easier if you break it into small segments, says Dr. Jesse Crosby, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. Try doing one bit a day, and start small.
“I always feel I can do anything for five minutes, so I set a timer,” Gail McMeekin, author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, told WebMD. “Once I start, I usually go over five minutes and may finish the job.”
Crack the door
Completing just a small part of a project creates momentum and helps dispel fears that a given task is too difficult or complex. Think of that quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” After you take a single step on that assignment, you’re moving.
Working with others can hold you accountable for making steady progress, says Gail McMeekin. Be sure, though, to discuss with a professor what sort of teamwork is kosher. You don’t want to be accused of cheating or plagiarism.
Find a Hermione
Find someone who’s consistently proactive, and stick close to that person. You could soak up some of his or her good habits. “Surround yourself with people who are doers,” Joseph Ferrari, a DePaul University psychology professor, told US News & World Report.