I'm a big time procrastinator. Always have been. Being smart kind of made that a little bit worse even. I could easily get away with doing my homework in the class before it was do. I could write a ten-page term paper the night before I had to hand it in.
Worse than that, I'd even procrastinate even when I was already cutting it close. There were many times in college when I didn't start that term paper until 3am! I remember my second year of college, in December, I looked at all the work that had built up during the semester and concluded that the only way I could possibly get everything done was if I didn't sleep until the winter break started (roughly two and a half weeks later). :-)
Even today I struggle. I've mentioned this before, so you may remember me saying it. There's always a lot of things that I'd rather be doing than the thing that I'm supposed to be doing...
Anyway, I do try to work on it. And here are some times that can help you rid yourself of the procrastination bug:
1. Always set goals, schedules, and deadlines. Make your to-do lists. It seems anal, but to-do lists are absolutely necessary if you want to succeed. They help you to remember all of the things that you are supposed to do. I know that if I don't write things down, I have a tendency to forget. More important is to set deadlines for when things should be done by. In some cases, it's OK if you don't get them done on time, but a deadline helps you to put pressure on yourself. I've used a Franklin Covey planner for years.
2. Give yourself rewards...later. So many people think "Oh. I'll get down to work...after I watch this one TV show/call my friend/check my email." The problem is that after never comes. There's always something else that you can do it after. So what I do is I reward myself after I complete the task. I'll say that I have to write two articles and then I can watch a TV show. Or whatever. And actually, it does feel better when it's a real reward coming after I've completed a certain task.
3. Never think things are "too easy". When you minimize the amount of effort a task is going to require, it's a lot easier to put it off. I know that I often have five or more "easy" tasks on my list that get put off for days, because I trick myself into believing that they're very easy. If it's so easy, why not get it done and over with.
4. Know what to tackle first. How to prioritize your tasks is a discussion better left for another time (oh...am I procrastinating?), but the truth is that you need to know how to do it. Some times, the big hard thing needs to be done first. Other times, the ten stupid little things should be done first. You need to decide this for yourself, based on your own deadlines and priorities.
When you are conscious of these things, hopefully you'll begin to procrastinate less. Unfortunately, it does require diligent work to keep up. I find that I often go through phases where I'm super-productive, and phases when I'm lazy girl.
What are your anti-procrastination techniques?