Learn to Pre-Commit
What’s the deal with ‘cramming’? Remember your college days, where everyone would practically brag about how they were able to pull off a miracle all-nighter?
The crazy thing is, although cramming is far from optimal in terms of the quality of work that is produced, it is quite useful in getting a fire lit under our asses, isn’t it?
According to a study on procrastination, this last minute hoorah is inspired by the fact that there is no way out. Better yet, this feeling can be controlled (without the worry and paranoia) by ‘pre-committing’ to a task before it’s begun.
There are a couple ways to go about this, depending on the severity of your lethargy.
One of the more extreme (and highly creative) alternatives is a web app called stickK, which allows you to pre-commit to a goal that you must complete by a certain deadline.
Big whoop, how is that going to stop me from procrastinating?
Well, before you can set a goal up, you have to lay down some cash, and if you miss your deadline the money becomes locked and is donated to a charity that you hate!
You can select other options and you don’t have to put in money, but c’mon, go big or go home!
Also, can you honestly think of a better way to get yourself to take action than an impending deadline that will send your hard-earned cash to an organization you despise?
What if you knew that $50 was headed to a place like the Westboro Baptist Church if you don’t get that new wireframe/article/logo finished?
I rest my case!
Two other less dramatic ways to achieve a similar effect are to do the following:
- Write down when and where you will complete a task (students who did this were far more likely to complete assignments)
- Make a public commitment by sharing your plan with a friend or simply emailing someone (“I will have that for you tomorrow by 5pm”). Leave a healthy amount of time for emergencies, but don’t give yourself a week when you really need a day or two.