Do you find it hard to stick to schedules? Do you often procrastinate or do does it often take you longer than expected to complete your tasks? The Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) provides tips on avoiding procrastination and explains how you can deal with planning mistakes such as the ones mentioned above or similar ones.
I constantly procrastinate my tasks.
There are many reasons for procrastination. Find out what might apply in your case: Do you not enjoy the tasks? Are you lacking the necessary motivation? Are you overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks? The following tips might be helpful to you:
- A common cause of procrastination is that looking at larger projects might easily cause you to feel overwhelmed. For this reason, it is helpful to break down larger tasks into smaller subtasks that can be accomplished bit by bit.
- Hold yourself accountable. In most cases, as little as having a written agreement with yourself in the form of a schedule helps: Have clearly defined work phases with set beginning and end points during which you will not allow yourself to be distracted and, just as importantly, phases of rest and relaxation.
- To create a realistic schedule, try comparing your planned weekly or daily schedules with how much you were actually able to accomplish. Make a list of what you planned to do and what you actually got done. Based on these results you will be able to create more realistic schedules for yourself in the future. Make sure you are tackling your tasks in a good work environment:
- Assemble the materials you need, tidy your desk, put your mobile phone in silent mode and prepare a glass of water before getting started. Click this link for tips about setting up your workplace.
- Think about what might motivate you. Rewards are very effective. When creating your work schedule, also decide how you want to reward yourself after having completed your tasks. Do you want to meet friends, make sports or enjoy a relaxed evening?
You feel like all tasks should be completed at the same time and you are not sure where to start? You are jumping from one task to the next without having completed the previous task and feel increasingly stressed? The following tips might help:
- Prioritise the tasks on your to-do list, so that you do not waste your time on things that are not relevant to the task at hand. Click this link for tips about time management.
- Tackle your tasks step by step. Only keep those materials on your desk that you are currently using. Seeing piles and piles of other tasks that need to be completed urgently will only make you feel stressed.
- Are there specific tasks that especially worry you? Even if this is difficult, it is best to start with those. The task that you have to fulfil might appear more manageable if you have more pleasant tasks to look forward to later.
I get easily distracted by interruptions.
Consider what you contribute to those interruptions. What can be done differently? Which interruptions are just part of your life and cannot be prevented, and how can you manage them more effectively? Handle interruptions consciously and try not to think of them as inevitable. You can decide how you deal with them:
- Make time every day for a period with no interruptions during which you can focus completely on your work and communicate this to the people you live with ahead of time.
- Consciously decide how important the person or the event is that is “interrupting” you.
- A decisive “no” communicates that you do not want to be interrupted right now.
- Unambiguously signal to other people that you do not want to be interrupted right now (e.g. with a closed door, headphones on, sitting on a specific spot, etc.). These signs can often be more effective than words.
- And finally: Take your work seriously – studying is work.