As always, this is an extremely busy time of year. I work long hours from now until New Year’s, but my work is nothing compared to the work that I see my students taking on. They are so dedicated and some of them are quite driven. For the most part, that drive is coming from them, as they take on the hardest courses, the biggest academic burdens, tons of activities, and now all these essays they have to write. Of course, I have my share of procrastinators, and so I’d like to remind those folks who have that tendency that you can help nip it in the bud with a few easy behavioral modifications:
1) Request and respect deadlines. Asking a procrastinator to respect a deadline is sort of like asking a jewel thief to respect a safe, but it’s worth a try. I actually have some students who ask me to set deadlines for them. It’s not my inclination to do so, and I’m always a bit surprised when I hear this request, but when I do, I’m happy to say “Tuesday” (or “Thursday” or “Monday”). And I find that these students, who know their limitations, do a pretty good job of respecting these deadlines.
2) Set goals for yourself. You have to write a 650 word essay, which is not exactly Atlas Shrugged, but, even so, you’re procrastinating. If you’ve spent weeks looking at a blank page (or computer screen), now is the time to set yourself a quota. Write 25 words tonight. That is attainable–and it will feel good once you do it. You can build on that feeling as you move forward.
3) Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone procrastinates for some reason or other. If you spend a great deal of time berating yourself for being a procrastinator, then that is time spent away from the work you could be doing…and, hence, it is just another form of procrastination.
3) Reward yourself. If you’ve met a goal, give yourself a treat. Make it commensurate with the goal, to create a “reward system.” So then, writing 25 words means that you get to play a video game for 10 minutes. Writing 100 words means a half hour on the video front. (Chocolates, TV, texting–choose whatever works for a reward).
All right then. Back to work for me!