Techniques to smash procrastination

Kasey Lawless

Marketing Coordinator at Atomi


min read

We all know how easy it can be to become distracted rather than focus on important work so we’ve put together a list of techniques you can use when that urge to procrastinate comes knocking. 

In the spirit of things, let’s jump straight in:

5-second rule

Since procrastination is about avoiding discomfort for your present self, having a rule that forces you to start straight away is a great way to nip procrastination in the bud. This is where the ‘5-second rule’ comes in. The rule essentially says that when you have an instinct to act on a goal, you need to physically act upon it within 5 seconds. Otherwise, your brain will kill most of your motivation. There’s basically a 5-second window where you can be immune from procrastination! 

This type of decision-making uses the intuitive part of your brain that doesn’t think twice before doing something. For example, if a lion were chasing you, you wouldn’t wait - you’d run for the hills! Although getting an assignment done isn’t quite the same as being chased by a lion, there is a benefit to quick decision-making. It gives you a sense of urgency so that your present self feels the heat and needs to act. You can get unstuck and actually start chipping away at that essay.

Techniques for scheduling time

So you’ve started studying but feel yourself fading, or reaching for your phone every five minutes. And whilst taking breaks is extremely important to prevent burnout, you want to avoid turning these small breaks into big breaks that halt your productivity.

So how do you achieve this?

1. Pomodoro Technique

One of the more famous ways to beat procrastination is called the Pomodoro Technique, which helps you balance study and rest breaks. Breaks act as a reward, as well as being necessary to help you recover your concentration. But, you want them to be deliberate and helpful. It can be tempting to turn a 10-minute break into a binge-watching session. This technique steps in and helps to prevent us from slipping into procrastination. 

It’s essentially based on the idea that humans work best for 25 minutes only. During this study time, you really need to use it well, so you can be as productive as possible! Then, you can take a 5-minute break. In this break, you can make a cup of tea, stretch, do deep breathing exercises or anything that disconnects your mind. 

After four rounds, you take a longer break lasting 15-20 minutes to do things like a short workout or a walk.  It’s important NOT to skip breaks, so you can avoid burning out. Naturally, this relies on having a timer, but there are a lot of great websites and extensions that can help you here.

2. Timeboxing Technique

Another popular, and related method is the Timeboxing Technique. Timeboxing is a time management practice where you set aside time to do one activity within a specific time frame. Once you reach the end, you move on to the next task. It’s basically like forming a calendar around your ever-growing to-do list! 

There are two approaches to timeboxing that might help you out. “Hard” time boxing means when you drop everything that you’re doing and immediately start the next task. On the flip side, soft time boxing means that you can spend a few more minutes finishing up an activity, before moving on. It’s probably best to use hard time boxing when you start off, so you don’t spend too much time on one activity or continue studying one subject when you need to be moving on. 

Remember: doing subjects that you like or find easy is a way of procrastinating, almost as much as jumping on social media is.

The benefits of timeboxing include:

  • Frequent feelings of accomplishment
  • The ability to break down complex tasks, 
  • Helping to prioritise deadlines. 

It basically ticks all the boxes when it comes to beating the negative feelings that prompt procrastination. 

In the end, procrastination comes from avoiding discomfort. Knowing this means we can develop some strategies to beat procrastination. Whether it’s binging some TV or reformatting our notes - all of us are guilty of some form of procrastination at one point or another. Whilst breaks are useful, we don’t want them to become massive eaters of our precious study time. 

In the end, the trick is creating rules that we can use to jolt us into action and stay on task, and practising these rules until they’re second nature. Good luck!


Published on

May 27, 2024

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