Procrastination & Time Management
Do you find yourself avoiding
specific tasks or not getting around to things that need to get accomplished?
Guilt, though a common reaction, guilt is of little use, and often serves to
just discourage you further. If this is an issue for you, try focusing on the
COMMON CAUSES OF PROCRASTINATION:
Is it humanly possible to meet all the obligations you currently have? If
not, can you omit or reschedule some of these obligations?
Is the task relevant to you personally? If it is another person's goal
rather than your own, try to find some personal reward or relevance for your
completing the task. Are you really interested in the project? If not, can
you find a way to make it interesting or let go of it?
Lack of training
Are you unprepared or incapable of completing the task? On a new task do you
find you afraid of the unknown? Are the expectations ambiguous? You may want
to ask for guidance, support, or a new perspective from someone who is more
familiar with the process or skilled in the area.
Are you assuming that if you ignore the task long enough it will disappear?
Do you tend to underestimate how much time and effort the job will take? Do
you have a tendency to over-estimate the difficulty of getting the task
done? Try sitting down and writing out each step of the job, how long each
step will take, and then tackling the job one step at a time.
Are fears of doing a less than perfect job interfering with your
productivity? Remember that perfection is unobtainable. Often it will feel
worse to not do a job at all instead of doing it in a less than perfect
manner. Try to assess how important the task is, and what level of
performance really matters in relation to the task. Ask yourself "what level
of performance on this task would I expect from a friend/co-worker?"
Fear of Evaluation
Are you over concerned with another individual's response to your
performance. Try to evaluate how much total impact upon your life this one
reaction will have. No one performs highly all the time, or in every area.
Try to focus on completing the task in with a goal of lessening your
workload and anxiety, regardless of the evaluation.
Avoidance of negative experience
Do you just HATE DOING THIS TASK? Does it rate up there with dental visits
or cleaning out the refrigerator? Is there any way to make it more
pleasurable or enjoyable? If not, try doing the dreaded task first, while
you still have energy. Often it can be helpful to have a friend or co-worker
nearby for encouragement (and to keep you on task!).
Create a work area for yourself free from
distractions (phone calls, roommates, tv), and commit to staying there for a
one to two hour period.
Recognize that your obligations and resulting
stress are as important as other people's needs, and set limits around being
interrupted or rescheduling your work time.
Break larger tasks, such as papers or projects,
into smaller goal steps. For example, most papers have at least five stages:
picking a topic, researching the topic, reading and taking notes on the
articles, organizing the information, and writing the paper.
Create a schedule for yourself, by doing the
First list all projects, exams, and papers with
their due dates.
Break larger tasks into smaller goals, such as
"library research for paper 2" and select target dates for completion of the
Identify what time of day you have the highest
energy and what time of day is your low energy period. Plan to schedule
tasks that take your greater effort (concentration, enthusiasm) during high
energy periods and plan rest breaks and more mundane tasks (such as laundry)
during low energy periods.
Plan out a weekly schedule hour by hour. Remember
to schedule time out every day for sleep, meals, social time, and some
exercise and/or relaxation time. It is important to create a realistic
schedule for yourself.
If possible, have someone who knows you well look
over your tentative schedule and give you feedback.
Try your new schedule. Remember, you're trying something new. It's okay to fine
tune it or adjust it after you give it a try for a week.
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