by: Courtney Rust
My method for conquering procrastination is one I’ve developed after years of fighting to stay focused when things needed to get done. It has been nearly perfected through trial and error, and only a few tweaks remain to be made. Until those are completed and I get that multimillion-dollar book deal I’m expecting, I am presenting you with this free and exclusive inside look at ten ways I combat procrastination.
1. Get packed
Step 1 is to gather your arsenal of weapons as you prepare to do battle with procrastination. Don’t forget the little things. There are few things worse than when your pen runs out of ink just as you’ve finally settled in to do some serious work and you’re without a backup.
Dress in layers so that you’re prepared for any artificially created temperature you might experience. I’ve been forced to leave some of my favorite haunts because the AC was cranked while a blizzard raged outside and I had brought one too few sweaters. Don’t make my mistakes.
Remember to pack sustenance for the long day ahead of you. Bring plenty of energy-sustaining things to nom, and make sure you have adequate amounts of caffeine.
By the time you have everything gathered, you should look as if you are about to go on a weeklong backpacking trip. If you don’t, you’re not doing it right.
2. Get gone
When I have things that desperately need doing, I need to get far removed from the comforts of home. The “where” is quite contingent upon my level of financial stability, but a coffee shop is my destination in especially dire circumstances. Wherever you go, it is essential that your chosen spot has space for you to spread out, comfy-but-not-too-comfy chairs, outlets, and a restroom. You’re going to be there for a while.
3. Don’t trust yourself to avoid distractions
Have a trustworthy friend change your passwords to social media sites with instructions not to give them back until your project is complete, no matter how much you beg, bribe, or threaten. Just know that the next time you log into facebook, it might be with the password…well, something you wouldn’t share in a piece of writing being posted for anyone to read.
4. Use your time wisely
This tip is not for beginners: To prevent myself from other internet distractions, I have perfected the art of laptop battery rationing. I will purposely leave my charger at home so I know that my laptop’s life cannot be used frivolously. It becomes a sort of high-stakes game! It’s like that game show Minute to Win It. Except unfortunately there’s no million-dollar prize to be won.
5. Have the perfect playlist
I need to listen to music while I work, but it has to be mellow music that I like but don’t yet know all the lyrics to. Otherwise I get quite distracted and run the risk of breaking into song. For this reason, instrumental music is great to having playing while you work. I highly recommend the soundtrack to the 2009 Sherlock Holmes movie. It makes your project seem like a complex mystery that only you are clever enough to solve. Every decision you make becomes an ingenious deduction bringing you one step closer to cracking the case. It’s a fun time.
6. Be aware of who you are sitting near
That person sighing every five seconds and tapping their pen incessantly; that person looking to chat with a stranger who will interrupt the work you are doing to ask what kind of work you are doing; that person shouting into their Bluetooth device; that person shouting at the empty air; that unsupervised child who you know is going to throw things at you; that extraordinarily attractive guy or girl who will make you hyperaware of your every movement so that you’ll become too worried about not breathing too loudly or not spilling your drink all over yourself to be able to concentrate on anything else…
Don’t sit near these people.
7. Give yourself a break
Just keep these realistic. Beware the trap of Work-to-Break Ratio Reversal. Too often have I gone from “2 hours of work = 10 minute of break to stretch and get some air” to “10 minutes of staring at a blank Word document = 2 hours of watching how-to youtube videos teaching me skills I will never master or use.”
8. Feel organized
Even if my ideas are scattered and I can’t come up with a thesis to save my life, I feel much more at ease if I can at least create an illusion of organization. You know those little neon-colored page-marker sticky tabs (what are those called)? Use them. Vague outlines where each of your points is listed as “something about something”? Make one. Highlighters? Pick some lines of text and make them pretty. Somewhere in this process you might actually realize how you want to structure this thing.
9. Know your deadline
I need to feel a certain amount of pressure to get things completed, but not so much pressure that I end up on the floor in the fetal position repeating “it can’t be done” in a deadened tone as I stare unblinkingly at horrors only I can see as the hour of my doom approaches. Don’t let the pressure build to such a point.
10. Know yourself
Like I said, this is just my method. Obviously it’s the best method, but you may find that a modified approach works better for you. So know the environment in which you are most productive. Know if taking breaks keeps you refreshed or if it sends you down a path of ever-decreasing motivation. Know at what pace you work, and know how far in advance of your deadline you need to begin and finish your work so that the pressure doesn’t become insurmountable.
Now shout your favorite battle cry  and go show procrastination that it has no power over you!
Courtney Rust is an undergraduate student at Loyola University Chicago pursuing a major in English and minors in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. She leaves her room every now and again to take part in Advocate, Loyola’s LGBTQA organization, where she serves on the advisory board. She is continually attempting to learn what it means to be a good ally to the LGBTQ community. Courtney moonlights as a barista, and has a strong love for musicals, coffee shops, big cities, exploring,Doctor Who, the internet, and most everything else in life. She hates olives though. With a fiery passion