10 Ways to Turn Procrastination into Productivity

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Sometimes the word productivity has a way of redefining itself. Do an hour of homework, then take a two hour nap. Productive? In my world, yes. For others, not so much. Distractions, like the ever-so-popular nap, are big no-no’s in terms of getting work done. If you’ve been in the game long enough, you know that balancing productivity and distraction is easier said than done.

1. Limit Social Media

Don’t kid yourself, at some point during your study session, you’ll check on social media like a concerned parent. What happened when I was away? What is this #dontjudgemechallenge trending on Twitter? Since social media runs our lives, it’s hard to cut it out completely. A great way to remedy the addiction is the dessert trick: Wait until the end of your study session to indulge in the sweet world of Facebook.

2. Tell Your Friends to Beat It

Sure, going out sounds way more enticing than writing a 10-page paper, but the paper’s more important than happy hour. Be real with your friends about your predicament. If they really want you to succeed, they’ll be totally understanding. Remember that there will be plenty of parties, but only one due date.

3. Save Netflix for a Rainy Day

Whether you’ve seen every TV show or movie on Netflix is beside the point; there’s always something that you can find to watch if you want to procrastinate. Think about Netflix this way: It’s not going anywhere and neither are your favorite episodes (Well, at least not until the end of the month). Save the binge-watching for a nice rainy day in bed, which is definitely the best scenery for a Netflix session anyway.

4. Turn Off Phone Notifications

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…airplane mode? Look through your phone’s settings and find the switch that could end the entire world. Well, your world at least. Every phone comes with the option to turn off notifications for apps, messages and even calls. Close your eyes and just do it; you need to be productive and this may be the only way.

5. Set Deadlines for Everything

Have to read a chapter? Set a deadline for it. Need to solve a set of math problems? Set a deadline for it. For every little piece of work you have to get done, set a time limit so you work as quickly and efficiently as possible. This method works especially well for those in a time-crunch and those who think they’ll pass out if they have to do any more work.

6. Start Snacking

Can food be the answer to all of our productivity problems? Possibly. Grab some brain food (cough…the catch), and lay it out all around your work station. Pile your apple slices and almonds high and mindlessly munch while you’re reading through the history of something completely boring. Eat, study, repeat; it’s a win-win for your stomach and your schoolwork.

7. Make Priorities a Priority

Some may suggest that making to-do lists is the ultimate way to be productive, but that’s just not the case. We tend to prioritize everything under the sun in hopes of getting it all done, instead of realistically focusing on what should be a priority. If drafting a 15 minute presentation takes a lot of time or you absolutely have to finish webwork questions for tomorrow, put the check email task on hold and tend to the pressing concerns.

8. Start Working on it, NOW

I know, this is basically the most unrealistic tip of them all, but there are some over-achievers out there who can attest to the benefits. As soon as you get an assignment or realize you have something important to do, start working on it immediately. Whether you get a little done or a lot, you’ll be thankful for the head start when the clock starts ticking.

9. Stop Multitasking, it Won’t Work

For some reason, multitasking is a skill all millennials think they have in their repertoire. Sorry to disappoint you, but the illusion that you can focus on many things at once and still do quality work is just that ─ an illusion. Turn off the TV and completely devote your attention to your English paper. Focus all your energy on one task and check off priorities one by one. It’s more efficient than being a frenzied mess as you go back and forth between a 20-page paper and a 100-page reading.

10. Keep Your Mind on the Money

Whether you’re taking a 10 minute break or dreamily looking into the distance for a few seconds, work on shifting your mind back to what you need to get done. This mindfulness trick works wonders on staying in the present instead of checking out and…what was I saying? Right. If you think about it enough, you’ll end up doing it.

Erika is a senior Communication Studies major at the University of Michigan. She enjoys reading, photography and binge-watching A Different World on Netflix.

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