Before I came to Vancouver to start a Master’s degree, I think I was a master of procrastinating. I had this belief that leaving things until the last minute would actually result in better work. Whether it was assignments in school, chores, or doing things for myself and others - it didn’t matter. I saw it as: if I did all the things I wanted to first, and the things I didn’t want to later - I’d minimize the things I didn’t want to do.
But it wasn’t a good way to see things. As I got older and had more and more responsibilities for myself, it got harder to concentrate on the all the stuff I needed to do. If I left things until the last minute, and there were more than a few things happening at the same time - I often lost the chance to make them good. The worst part was that I knew what I could be doing better, but all this judgement shrouded the shiny light of success on the horizon.
I didn’t become better at working through my procrastination easily. I’d say it took me about 2 years before I felt like I had a handle on how to manage my time and take on more things. A lot of that time was spent on finding what worked best for me, and talking to a lot of people about how they managed things in their own lives.
Here’s a few things that got me to where I am today. It’s kind of a blend of what other people do, and what worked for me:
Be interested in changing a little
I couldn’t have started to be more organized unless I wanted to change. And just giving myself a little mental room for new ways of thinking went a long way.
When I wanted to get more organized, I first thought about buying a planner that had a calendar, and pull-outs, and all kinds of fancy stuff. But it was too much for me. So instead, I wrote out my goals for the day, and what I needed to do for that day. After a few weeks of that, I was ready to go to something bigger.
There doesn’t need to be an app for this
Once I started getting used to keeping track of what I did and needed to do, I tried jumping straight into using something digital. But I found I’d leave those things behind more easily than using post-its or paper. Maybe because it wasn’t physical - and it didn’t have that feeling of writing it down.
Whether its with myself or friends, just keeping track of things often doesn’t solve the problem of procrastinating. It’s keeping a constant flow of communication between what you need to do, how you’re doing it, and why. And checking up on those things often. I’ve had so many things fizzle out just because I didn’t follow up with them - even if they’re things I set for myself.
Don’t stop dreaming
Just because I got more organized didn’t mean I stopped doing the things I loved to do. I also keep a list of goals around for things that I want to work towards in a couple years, even if they seem lofty right now.