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5 Tips to deal with Procrastination for teens

If you feel that you procrastinate a lot, here are some useful tips for you.

Procrastination has been widely researched by psychologists, maybe because they have some world-class procrastinators close to them: students. Not that it’s only the students who procrastinate but almost every student has a habit of delaying things. Some of them learn to fight it while others never do because...well, they are procrastinating.

Here are ten scientific tips to combat procrastination:

1. Begin with the easiest

Start with the easiest and most manageable task, which you don’t mind doing at the moment. If you have a project to do, start by doing the easiest bit first. This builds momentum to get things going and the harder bits are then likely to flow smoothly.

The best way to get something done is to begin.

2. Start from anywhere

The problem with ‘starting easy’ is that it can be hard to know where to start exactly: there might be plenty of easy bits, or it might not be easy to tell what should be done and what shouldn’t. Here, planning can help, although remember that planning is also a trap. Too much of planning and not enough actual doing is yet another form of procrastination. 

3. Beware of the excuses

Excuses will come to your mind no matter what. Here are a few of the excuses that psychologists have found people express to themselves:

  • Not feeling in the mood to do it.
  • Believing that you work better under pressure.
  • Thinking that you can finish it at the last minute.
  • Blaming sickness or poor health.
  • Waiting for the right moment

Be mindful of anything that’s expressed like an excuse and label it as such. It’s natural, but it will also stop you from getting anywhere.

4. Up the value

A massive cause of procrastination is simply not valuing the goal enough. If we don’t care that much, we’re not going to be that motivated. Other times the goal is unpleasant or aversive and we need to be super-motivated to do it.

Cleaning is a great example of something people often procrastinate on.

The value of this task could be increased by making a game out of it or setting time limits or unusual conditions. For any task, though, thinking about why it’s important and trying to up its value in our minds will help fight demotivation.

5. Procrastination personality

Some people are just born procrastinators. These people are easily distracted, impulsive and have low self-control. The bad news is that you can’t change your personality but the good news is that you can change your environment. You can put yourself in an environment in which there are fewer distractions, temptations and all the right reinforcing signals. Procrastination tends to strike when you have to stop and think, so have everything you need to hand and then lock yourself away.

The more you have a procrastination personality, the more the environment needs to be just right for you to get it done.

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Understand and Befriend Change

Change is a part of our lives which can make us feel overwhelmed. It is important to understand it objectively and take steps to cope with it. There are some ways in which we can manage change and allow ourselves the space and time to make it our new normal.
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Change can be a very daunting experience for all of us. It cannot always be anticipated which may lead to feelings of anger, denial, fear, shock, uncertainty, etc. As humans we are programmed to retaliate change before we step back and think about what it actually entail. Changes can leave you feeling out of control and overwhelmed as there might be a situation which you can’t do anything about. We do not like to give away our control, do we? This may lead of confusion and restlessness. Before doing anything, begin with taking a few deep breaths and just sitting with the newly introduced situation.

Coping with change is not an easy thing to do. It takes energy, time and patience. Try to acknowledge that things are changing around you. It’s natural to deny that things are getting out of your control. It protects us from dealing with change. However, it’s important to take a step back from this phase and remind yourself that whatever is happening is okay. Recognize that something’s different.

Positive Change

Positive changes can also cause some stress.  For example, getting a new job, having a baby, graduating from school/college, etc.. Positive change can also lead to feelings of dread or uncertainty about what to do next. Remember to take time and ask for help. Stress is normal even if positive change occurs. Talk to people, understand your options and take one step at a time.

Stick to what you Can Control - Routine

Hold onto your regular schedule as much as possible. Although some things might be changing, there might be a few which you can keep constant. It’s helpful to make a list of your routine and do as much as you can while ticking them off. This will help you remember that there are things which have remained unchanged and are still in your control which relieves your brain for some time. If you eat breakfast at 8am, keep doing that. If you go for a walk after dinner, keep doing that. Anything which you can keep constant will be favourable.

Healthy Body = Healthy Mind

When change occurs, it’s natural to resort to carbs and comfort foods such as breads, muffins, cakes, pasta, etc as these can increase serotonin levels in our brain, a chemical which is responsible for our well-being and happiness. However, although we want to keep eating these, we need to realize that they are unhealthy and might cause further damage to our bodies and minds. In order to keep track of this, you can keep a list of things you’re eating during the day and reflect on it at the end of the day. Eating healthy food is as important as feeding our minds with positive and healthy thoughts, especially in times of angst.

Exercise!

We underestimate the power of moving around and exercising, especially in times of confusion and change. If it’s not a part of your schedule, add it. Going for a walk or jog can make you feel active and motivated. Start any kind of workout you enjoy and go ahead and do it. This will also elevate your serotonin level and make you energized. Even if you feel lazy and low on energy, put on shoes and music, and walk around.

Need Help? Just Ask!

Reach out for help. Getting through life on your own is not necessary and you have the option of seeking help. Think of friends, family, neighbors, mental health professionals, teachers, relatives, mentors or anybody who you trust. Share your feelings and ask for support. Sometimes you just need  to be heard and sometimes you need someone to sit with you. You’re not alone.

Write the Positives

When you feel ready and less overwhelmed with the change, try to write some positives which may have come from this new situation. It can be anything. In the midst of a stressful situation, we often put the positive experiences on the back burner. Bring them back to the front and list them. Read these anytime you feel lost and remind yourself that it’s not all bad. Anything that happens, also gives us the opportunity to grow and learn. It’s essential to recognize and appreciate these opportunities and evolve.

Finally, remember that it’s okay to take it slow. In a changing situation, you can do less than what you normally would. There is no hard and fast rule about doing 100% all the time. Sitting back and breathing is good enough. Allow yourself space and time to deal with change and take one day at a time, if needed. At the end of each day acknowledge that you overcame yet another day and are ready for the next. Become a survivor of change, not a victim.

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