With the school year in full swing, some students are hitting their groove and grinding away, while others may yet be clinging onto a diminishing dream that used to be called “summer.” This article is designed for those of you looking for a productive “pick me up,” and for those that are looking to further increase their efficiency. Let’s take a look at how you can accomplish more work, stay on task, and slay procrastination.
Procrastination…… it can be a major cause of stress and anxiety in a person’s life. If it causes so much mental harm, why do we still do it? We do it because it gives us temporary relief. Procrastination gives us a release of dopamine in the brain, and it can be very addicting. To snap out of this dreadful loop try a method called Solar Flaring. The concept behind Solar Flaring is to start off with something very small and easy to do. Then, use that forward momentum to get more work done. The basic premise of Solar Flaring is telling yourself to “just start” the task.
So why is it called Solar Flaring? Well, a solar flare is a sudden burst of energy off the surface of the sun. It starts off really small, then suddenly turns into an immense explosion! The same concept can apply to beating procrastination. For example, there is a difference between “I’ll just read my chemistry textbook for 10 minutes,” and “I’ll read all of chemistry chapter 2.” You are more likely to do a task for a set a amount of time rather than the task in its entirety. The best part about Solar Flaring is that once people get started with a task, they will often complete it. Even if you only do the task for 10 minutes, at least you did what you set out to do and you’ve taken the first steps.
But beware that Solar Flaring is a double edged sword, and can also be used for further procrastination. As easy as it to say “I’ll just do 5 math problems,” it is just as easy to say “I’ll just watch one more video,” or “I’ll just take 5 more minutes” of whatever distracting activity you’re doing. The next time you feel like procrastinating, keep the solar flaring technique in mind. “Just” do one small thing, and before you know it you checking items off of your list!
Another Productive Strategy is the Pomodoro Technique.
The Pomodoro Technique is a simple way to get yourself started on a task when you just can’t seem to focus. The method is named after a “pomodoro” (tomato-shaped) kitchen timer.
To use this technique, follow these 4 steps:
- Identify the task at hand.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes. It can be a physical timer or a digital timer on a phone or computer
- In that time, focus only on your chosen task and do as much work as you can – nothing else.
- When the timer rings, give yourself a short 5-minute break.
- For every four Pomodoro cycles, take a longer break (15-30 minutes).
Once you have completed your Pomodoro session, write down what you achieved during the time. A key part of the success of the Pomodoro Technique is avoiding distractions. If you find your mind racing with other priorities you need to deal with, a good solution is keeping an index card or small piece of paper next to your workspace. When you think of another responsibility or task, write it down! This way you be able to focus completely on your work with the peace of mind knowing that your other thoughts won’t be forgotten.
The idea behind the Pomodoro Technique is to create as much “flow” time as possible. By deliberately postponing any distractions, you encourage your brain to spend more time in that flow state. Once you are comfortable with the 25-minute rhythm of a basic pomodoro, you can experiment with longer work-rest intervals, like 50 minutes work-10 minutes rest.
Combining Pomodoring with Solar Flaring is simply a matter of telling yourself “I’ll just do one Pomodoro…” and then starting it. Then your momentum will kick in, and your productivity will skyrocket!