4 Ways for New Grads to Beat Procrastination

Thoughtful female person sitting in modern coffee shop interiorIn college, you might have been able to eke out a passing grade by doing the minimum amount of work at the last possible minute. In the real world, though, there’s no teacher to give you deadlines — you have to make those for yourself — and procrastination is really just another word for laziness and lack of motivation. Well, it’s time to act like a responsible adult. Why put something off till tomorrow, when you could just do it today and do something else tomorrow? If procrastination is a tough habit for you to break, heed this advice.

1. Get organized

One of the worst things you can do is continuously put off an assignment and then have to fumble for an excuse when your boss asks how it’s coming along. Take your work assignments and put them on a list, sorted by due date. Then, tackle them one at a time, checking them off as you go. Break them down into smaller parts if you need to, and finish them piece-by-piece. As you keep returning to your list, the growing number of checked-off tasks will give you a sense of accomplishment.

2. Create incentives

It’s difficult to go from doing practically nothing to doing everything all at once. Distractions are everywhere! Internet, Instagram, a beautiful day outside. Use incentives to help you stay on task. Say, you can’t go out with your friends until you complete five items on your list. Or try a reward system. Hey, it worked for Pavlov.

3. Take small steps

Set a daily goal for yourself. If you’re looking for a job, start your day by saying that you’re going to write three cover letters for three jobs. Then, make sure you do at least that amount of work throughout the course of the day. Put in a little work, and you will get something back. It may be something tangible or it may just be satisfaction with yourself. Whatever the case, you can at least say that you accomplished something.

4. Challenge yourself

Now we’re getting into extra credit. In school, procrastinators define that as “homework that doesn’t have to be done.” But, at an actual job, doing more than you’re asked can get you not only the approval of your boss, but also a potential raise (which I am fairly confident that most people would happily accept). All it takes is a little extra effort. Complete the task given to you, and then some. That could mean being more comprehensive than requested, or putting in a little extra research. Even if it’s just a matter of having some extra time, do something productive.

Remember: No one can force you to do anything — you have to find your own drive. You are the ruler of yourself, your anchor and your oar. That’s the responsibility of freedom: you have the power to either drag yourself down into the mud or to push yourself to greater and greater heights!

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