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Tips for Managing Procrastination

A great introduction was planned about deadly procrastination and how it can strike a student when he/she least expects it, but the author just didn't get around to writing it.

Getting started on an unpleasant or difficult task may seem impossible. Procrastination is likened to the concept of inertia - a mass at rest tends to stay at rest. Greater forces are required to start change than to sustain change, or it's harder to start than to keep going.

Another way of viewing it is that avoiding tasks reinforces procrastination which makes it harder to get things going. A person may be stuck, too, not by the lack of desire, but by not knowing what to do. Here are some things to break the habit. Remember, don't just read them, just do them!

  • Set Priorities

Not: I don't know where to begin so I can't begin at all.

Not: I have to do EVERYTHING! Nothing less will do.

Instead: The most important step is to pick one project to focus on.

  • Break The Task Down Into Little Pieces

Not: There's so much to do and it's so complicated. I'm overwhelmed by my English term paper.

Instead: I don't have to do the whole project at once. There are separate small steps I can take one at a time to begin researching and drafting my paper.

  • Set Up Small, Specific Goals

Not: I have to write my thesis within two months.

Instead: If I write 2 pages per day, Monday-Friday, I can finish a 1st draft in 1 month. I'll have a revised final draft in 2 months.

  • Take One Small Step At A Time

Not: It's too much. I'll never get it all done.

Instead: What is the one next step on my list? I'll concentrate on that step for right now.

  • Reward Yourself Right Away When You Accomplish A Small Goal

Not: I can't take any time out until I'm completely finished.

Instead: I spent an hour working. Now I'll call a friend.

  • Use A Time Schedule

Not: I must devote the whole week to this project.

Instead: I can use these times this week to work on my project: Monday 7-8; Tuesday 7-9; Saturday 10-12;

  • Learn How To Tell Time

Not: Sorting through these papers and reorganizing my file cabinet will be a snap. It won't take me more than an hour, so I can do it any time.

Instead: Sorting papers always takes longer than I expect, so I'll start tonight. I'll spend 1 hour filing 1 stack of papers.

  • Optimize Your Chances For Success

Not: I'll do my writing this weekend at home.

Instead: I'll write during the week in the library. (Choose whatever conditions are optimal for you to get work done.)

  • Delegate, If Possible

Not: I am the only person in the world who can do this.

Instead: I don't have to do this all by myself. I can ask someone else to do part of the job and still feel a sense of accomplishment.

  • Just Get Started

Not: I can't write this speech until inspiration hits.
Instead: I'll write what first comes to mind, then improve it later.

  • Look At What You Have Accomplished

Not: I have hardly made a dent in all there is to do.

Instead: I have reviewed my lecture notes and read 3 chapters. That won't guarantee me an "A," but it's more than I did yesterday.

  • Be Realistic!

Not: I should be able to work part-time, go to school, be president of the Spanish Club, spend more time with friends, play tennis 2 hours a day, with no trouble at all.

Instead: I have limits. I can take on fewer responsibilities and still like myself.

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