Friday, June 22, 2012

How to Kick Procrastination in the Face Like a Ninja Warrior

( OR if we're gonna get real: "How to Get Sh*t Done" )

As many of you know, I am currently in graduate school, pursuing my MFA in Illustration. For anyone who's had the strength of heart to tackle grad school, you know that there is not a time in your life where you have worked harder, longer, or more rigorously (my alter-ego Hermoine Granger secretly loves this).

When I came into school, I knew that I wanted to give 150% of myself to my education; to make the best work possible, to always stay on top of things, and to maintain that coveted 4.0 GPA. But I knew it wasn't going to be easy, and I needed to have a plan. 

Luckily, I have been freelancing for the past 3 years. Sometimes people think "freelancer" is code for "sit in your pjs all day and drink coffee", but more often than not it is code for "learning how not to let procrastination get the best of you". It took 3 years and a lot of learning experiences to be able to develop a plan for myself that truly helps me to overcome procrastination. Rather, to kick procrastination in the face like a ninja warrior!

Even if you're not in grad school, if you have a lot on your plate, or if you just have a difficult time getting down to business, this helped me, so hopefully it will help you. Please keep in mind that I'm just someone who likes to draw a lot, and I'm not a certified expert on this, it's simply the way that I've learned to be most successful and I wanted to share it with you.

Okay, here it goes... the secret! [dramatic music]

 Schedule Your Day.

Yep. That's it. Schedule your day. What do I mean by that? 
Here's an actual example I used during finals week: 

Take your day and divide it up to create a written schedule for yourself of the things you need to accomplish. Be realistic with yourself and your time. Account for things like dinner, showering, and other "around the house" chores.

This may seem like a pretty "duh" answer, but there are reasons this works better than a general "To-Do" list.

1. To-Do Lists are overwhelming.
You can keep adding things on as you think of them, and it's pretty easy to let that list get out of control. An overwhelming To-Do List is just code for Not Knowing Where to Start. By scheduling your day, you are limited to only the hours you actually have. This forces you not only to prioritize, but it also helps you to concretely realize that your time is limited, restoring that good sense of urgency that procrastination can gobble up.

2. Small chunks of time are less pressure.
By dividing up your day into small blocks of time, you give yourself the mental clarity to see that that list is not so overwhelming as you thought. When I have a large project to do, I often create a 1-hour block of time to do the first few steps, then in the next hour I move to a completely different task, and then finally come back to the original task. This helps keep your brain fresh. Hours and hours of work on one task can make it seem more daunting; therefore, you'll be less willing to sit down and start. Breaking it up helps you say, "Oh man, that's not too bad at all!".

3. A sense of urgency is restored.
It's easy to get up in the morning and say, "Oh, I have all day to do that... I'll just get on Facebook for a few minutes." And inevitably, as soon as midnight rolls around, you realize you had a ton of other things you wanted to accomplish that day as well. Scheduling your time is almost like playing a game with yourself. You want to be realistic, but it forces you to look at the clock and stay on track. It's a great motivator to look at that clock and go, "Alright, I'm kicking some serious butt! Let's try and finish this a few minutes early!" It's a great sense of accomplishment, which fuels your desire to keep rockin it out. And if you have a few minutes, reward yourself by hopping on Facebook or Pinterest. But keep that schedule in mind.

4. It helps clear out filler time.
We all check our email/facebook/blog a thousand times a day. And a lot of times we don't realize how much time these moments of "just checking" actually take up. By scheduling your day and creating a sense of urgency, you are able to eliminate these tasks from your work time, making your efforts more effective. If you have extra time, they become rewards as opposed to time-wasters.

5. Schedule time realistically.
It's crazy to book yourself so tight that you don't leave time to eat. Make sure you give yourself at least a half hour to make something and eat it with nothing else to do. Not only does this give you a moment to take a mental break and surf the web, it also acts as a reward and good stopping place. Creating this scheduled "down time" keeps you on-task and motivated to reach it.

6. At the end of the day, you feel like a boss.
In my schedules, I mark each time slot with a check-box. If you are anything like me, checking off that box is a mental pat-on-the-back and motivator to keep going. At the end of the day, look at all your check marks and give yourself some mad props...

...because you just kicked procrastination in the face like a ninja warrior!

I hope this was helpful :) If you liked this, please pin it and share it with your friends! And if you try it out, please let me know how it goes so we can be ninja warriors together!


  1. Great tips! I need to try this. I usually put my to do list in my phone but then I forget to check that. oops.

    1. Yea, I always like to have mine on an index card, so it's always out in front of me :) Thanks for reading!

  2. This is my Epic Win post for the day for sooo many reasons. GREAT advice and thoughts!!

  3. thank you so great tips! i just graduated from FE course (got my diploma today, yoohoo!) and starting full time bachelor course from september. i can see your little advices being really useful in changing my daily routine (stuck in same day time job for past 4 years..)

    have a wonerful weekend :)!

    1. Hey, congrats! That's awesome! :) I do hope it's helpful for you when you start in the Fall :)

  4. Those are amazing tips!!! I consider myself really organized, but def I haven't tried all of those tips :)

  5. Just read this and gave it a try today (23 June 2012) and already I feel that your ideas have helped me so much. I got so much accomplished today. Wow!

    Thank you! This is awesome, and so are you!

    1. Awesome, girl! So glad to hear it :) :) Happy to help!

  6. Totally trying this tomorrow. Procrastination is eating at me this summer. :x

    1. Thanks, Alice! Hope it works out for you! And yea, summer is a great time for procrastination, hahahah... thanks for reading!

  7. So much yes. HIIIII-YA!

    My organization is dividing my to-do list into categories. I like it because it's easy to see what area of my life/business needs more attention that day, but I might have to give this schedule a shot instead. I fall into the "just checking Pinterest" trap ALL THE TIME. Shame on me.

    1. Hahah, I should've added more ninja sound effects in there, lol.

      That's a cool idea, to organize by category - never thought of that. I hope trying this might be a helpful addition :) And yes, I'm SO guilty of getting on Pinterest... it's such an addiction hahah


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