Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Procrastination and the magical power of the timer on your phone

Procrastination is the act of putting things off, especially things which are important or urgent.  If you have never experienced it, you are either very lucky, or extremely self-disciplined.

Learning to overcome procrastination is the key to a happy and successful life, whether as a university student, an employer, an employee, a self-employed businessperson, or indeed a householder.  You might be happy as a procrastinator, but it's unlikely that you would also be successful. 

I'm a procrastinator by nature - when I have some important work to do (like marking essays) I always feel a strong need to tidy out my sock drawer or dust my bookshelves.  If I have housework to do I always feel the need to check my email or phone a friend.  If I have to make a difficult phone call, I always want to do the ironing.  Basically, I avoid doing things I don't enjoy.

When you find yourself procrastinating and not sitting down to study, or sitting down to study but not actually starting to write the essay, this is what you must do:

  1. Set the timer on your phone for 15 minutes.
  2. Sit down and work with full concentration for 15 minutes.
  3. When the timer rings, stop working.
  4. Set the timer for another 15 minutes.
  5. Do whatever you feel like - make a cup of tea, surf the Internet, listen to some music etc.
  6. When the timer rings, stop.
  7. Set the timer for another 15 minutes.
  8. Sit down and work with full concentration for 15 minutes - etc etc etc.
You get the idea.  If you still can't do it, set the timer for 10 minutes.  Or even 5 minutes!  JUST DO IT!

I'm working to the timer right now - I've all sorts of boring jobs to do, and it's helping me to get through them all.  When the boring jobs are finished, I'll feel so satisfied and free to enjoy the rest of my evening.

Good luck!  Let me know if you find this plan helpful, or if you have any good ideas about how to deal with procrastination.


  1. Hi Julia,

    I have shown several of my students your blog and suggested that they follow it for both direction and inspiration! Your insight is fantastic! I am now tweeting your posts on my website in hopes that more students will get the opportunity to read them. :-)


  2. I think that is excellent advice Julia. If only I had taken that approach when studying for exams; I'm sure I would have covered far more than I actually did by having a few major revision assaults !