Avoiding Procrastination"Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task." ~William James"If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it." ~Olin Miller
Procrastination: What is it? Procrastination is a learned behavior that involves putting off or postponing something until a later time. Chronic procrastinators have ingrained certain behavioral and cognitive patterns into their way of “doing life.” Fortunately, because procrastination is a learned behavior, IT CAN BE UNLEARNED, REDUCED, OR ELIMINATED. Characteristics of a Procrastinator: The accept and even boast about being procrastinators They pride themselves on being able to do things quickly, at the last minute, and under pressure They often wait for a “push,” a threat of a specific consequence, a crisis, or some outside force to get the momentum to do what needs to be done. Their focus is on completing the task, and proving they can complete it in a short time frame, and not necessarily on the quality of the final product. They try to use their procrastination as a legitimate excuse for not performing on high levels or not completing projects.
When you procrastinate… Any time you find yourself avoiding a specific task or making excuses, recognize you are procrastinating and become aware of your procrastination pattern. 1. Are there specific kinds of tasks involved when you procrastinate? Identify the specific kinds of tasks that you avoid most frequently; for those tasks, you will need to activate strategies to increase your momentum. 2. Do you tend to procrastinate about a specific task, or does procrastination appear during the middle of working on the task? Understanding when in the process of a task you procrastinate can help you select strategies to complete tasks or goals more consistently. 3. Do you start multiple tasks, jumping from one to another, and make less important tasks seem more important or urgent? Recognize the busy work is a mask for avoiding specific tasks. When you find yourself scurrying around, sometimes aimlessly keeping busy, take time to identify the task you are avoiding.
Why you procrastinate… Reasons for procrastinating vary for different tasks, situations, and individuals. It is important to identify not just when you procrastinate, but also why. So why don’t people just do the work and avoid excuses: False Beliefs – procrastinators are convinced they work better under pressure, or they’ll feel better about tackling the work later. Fear of Failure – procrastinators fear they’ll fall short because they don’t have the requisite talent or skills. They would rather be seen as lacking in effort than lacking in ability. Perfectionism – people who feel they must be perfect to please others often put things off. Self-Control – people who are impulsive may not be able to prioritize intentions. They are easily distracted. Thrill Seeking – Some procrastinators enjoy the adrenaline rush of waiting until the last minute to get an assignment completed. Task Related Anxieties – humans are pleasure driven and avoid the difficult and boring. Unclear Expectations – vague directions increase procrastination. Depression – the blues can lead to or worsen procrastination and vise versa.
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #1: Use your intrapersonal intelligence. Explore when and why you procrastinate about a specific task. Use those insights to identify appropriate strategies to deal directly with the underlying issues.
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #2: Identify a purpose and meaning. Avoid labeling a task as “meaningless, stupid, or boring” or expressing a negative attitude toward a task. These attitudes lower motivation and negatively impact your self-image Find a purpose or a valid reason for the task Identify the benefits Boring Stupid
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #3: Create an interest. Engage a family member, a roommate, a tutor, or a study group to work with you on a task Seek alternative sources of information, such as a video, internet search, magazine, or book related to the topic. Because once you become familiar with the topic, your interest often increases.
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #4: Take charge of the situation. Gather up all the supplies or materials you need to get started. Select an appropriate work environment. TAKE CHARGE and take responsibility for the situation!!
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #5: Prioritize and stick to the order. When you feel overwhelmed or overextended, make a list of tasks that must be done. Use the ABC method to prioritize them by importance or prioritize by due date: Assign a priority letter A, B, or C to the tasks on your list: o “A” goals = the most important to you or the one you want or need to complete first o “B” goals = not as high priority as “A” goals o “C” goals = not of much immediate importance. Tack the high priority tasks first and plan time in your weekly schedule to work on these tasks.
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #6: Relax your personal standards If you tend to be a perfectionist, lower your unrealistically high standards or expectations. You can continue to produce quality without always having to be the best.
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #7: Be flexible and willing to change. Be willing to give up the attitude that “I have always done things this way.” Be willing to try new strategies and to create new patterns of thinking and new patterns of behavior.
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #8: Face your fear of failure. Focus on your positive traits, your accomplishments, and the skill you have acquired. Use positive self-talk and affirmations Build your self-confidence by mentally rehearsing the steps of the task several times before you begin.
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #9: Visualize success. Create a mental picture of yourself working through a task, feeling positive about your work, and completing the task on time.
Strategies to avoid procrastinationStrategy #10: Make a contract with yourself Make a contract with yourself to stop using excuses for not getting things done. Begin by creating a plan of action (a goal). Push yourself to “just do it.” End your contract with a reward or incentive.
Source: Wong, Linda. Essential Study Skills. 6th ed. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2009. Print.