I'll admit it — the very first thing I do when I wake up before classes at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. is check my texts, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and email. But in a recent Reddit AMA, Dan Ariely, a Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics, said that potentially the two hours after we wake are our most productive hours of the day, meaning that the mindless stuff we do right when we wake up — like check our phones or go on our computers —could be more of a waste of time than we had imagined. We should instead try and focus on things for which we need enhanced productivity brain power.
In his AMA, Ariely talked about this issue and answered other questions about time management. User chrrrmaine asked what his tips are for helping with and avoiding procrastination, to which Ariely answered with a cool experiment:
Procrastination plagues us all, so you're not alone. There are lots of ways to think about it, but one recent interesting study emailed parents to let them know that their kids were facing a deadline or an upcoming exam.
By simply emailing them, creating an implicit social pressure and probably some explicit social pressure, the tasks were completed at a higher rate.
On top of that, because you don't have any immediate reward for completing the task, I'd recommend looking for one. You can look for positive rewards (praise or a good reputation) or you can think of "negative rewards" such as shame or humiliation.
For next year, think about the idea of "precommitment." With precommitment, you approach students at the beginning of the semester and you tell them to put $10 down. You tell them if they miss the deadline they will lose the money, and if they hit the deadline they will get the money back. This helps the students create a system of motivation for themselves. We've tested it numerous and it's proven to be very effective.
Check out some more of his tips on how to better manage time, avoid procrastination, and saying no to over-committments.