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“I’ll do it later...”: How to Stop Procrastinating

Cartoon Alarm clock

“Being a good law student is 3% talent, 97% not being distracted by the Internet.” Okay, so I’ve adapted a quote that was originally about writers, but I think it’s also true for law students.

Procrastination, aka “I’ll just quickly check to see if anyone has said something about the property law essay on Facebook”, is where all of the time that could be used for looking up a few more journal articles or reading the minority judgment actually gets spent.

To stop procrastinating, you could follow the lead of one blogger from San Francisco who increased his productivity by hiring someone to watch him work and slap him when he logged onto Facebook… but maybe don’t do that.

Here are some techniques to help you stop procrastinating and clear your to do list…

Do Nothing

This is a pretty clever way of dealing with procrastination. If you don’t want to do that piece of work, that’s okay, but the catch is that you’re not allowed to do anything else either. No naps, no study snacking, no random Internet surfing. The nothing alternative is a pretty effective at making you want to do the work.

“Pay” yourself to get it done

If you’re constantly finding ways to delay doing that inevitable piece of work, try giving a friend some money to hold onto until you finish the job. Up the stakes and improve your motivation by telling them that they can keep the cash if you don’t finish the work within a set period of time.

Quarantine It

An important but not-so-appealing task has a way of making everything else look awesome. While you’re entering some footnotes you come up with the idea of going to the Amazon and for some reason you have to research this straight away. Some have dubbed this Shiny Shiny Syndrome – it’s the “overwhelming urge to start working on something new and better, instead of wrapping up your current projects.”

If you’re easily distracted by all things new and exciting, an idea quarantine might be in order. Simply write down the brilliant idea/activity that you want to do, and then a date when you can start doing it. It will give you something to look forward to as you finish off your referencing, and hopefully help to keep distractions in check.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: This story was first published on Survive Law on 5 December 2013.

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