Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Beating Procrastination: Part 1

While researching for my College Success Skills Class, I found some excellent thoughts and tips on procrastination. I thought, "Why keep this to myself?" Hopefully this will be helpful to someone out there . . .

Possible Solutions For Procrastination

1. Some people who procrastinate become curious about what is it they put off when they procrastinate. Some of these people have kept a log for only 1 week where they jot down whatever it is they put off. Maybe after a few days of logging "procrastinatables," you may begin to see certain patterns about what kinds of tasks you put off. You may see avoidance of certain kinds of work or situations that are potentially conflict arousing. Maybe you will see that "putting off" has to do with certain kinds of people, teaching styles, environments, moods, feelings, tasks, etc. Possibly, you may notice a "first impulse" resistance to required work as you log things. It could be that doing this first step might give you insight into whatever it is you keep putting off. Some people begin to see possible solutions to procrastination at this point and some do not, yet. Either way is ok.

2. If you choose to do a log, you may want to look for common "delaying tactics". Many procrastinators discover an "inner voice" telling them what to do just before something is put off. This inner voice is normal and exists in all of us. You may feel like jotting down some of the things this inner voice says just before you put things off. This inner voice is called "self-talk."

Some people become curious about this "inner voice" and want to know more about what it says. This inner voice is normal and is called self talk. You may choose to listen more consciously for any negative or delaying self-talk when faced with commonly put-off tasks. You might discover what your self-talk is saying to you when facing commonly procrastinated tasks. You may even realize that, like many other people who put things off more than they want to, that you are likely to do what you tell yourself to do when facing unpleasant tasks. It might be interesting to see what happens if you change your self-talk and repeatedly tell yourself not to put something off. some ex-procrastinators have found that describing exactly what they intend to do and for how long, just before doing it, makes procrastinating more difficult.

3. You may believe that it is "good news" when you realize that negative or delaying self-talk can be consciously changed to positive self-talk. For example, if your self-talk when facing a disliked task is, "I don't want to do this," you are likely to do what is normal and do what you tell yourself to do. "I don't want to do this" is only a small logical step away from, "so, to hell with it!"

Perhaps you might like to experiment and see what happens to you if you attempted the kind of positive self-talk which says the opposite of your habitual negative or delaying self-talk.

Some ex-procrastinators jot down positive self-talk phrases on notecards that they carry with them. If you feel this may be a good idea, you might use notecards for reminders of what to say to yourself when facing commonly put off tasks.

Some examples of positive self-talk that you could put on a note are:

"I will do it now."

"I may not want to do it, but I will for 1/2 hour."

"I'd rather swim but it won't help me graduate so I will study first."

"I'll feel better when it's done, so I'll do it at 2pm."

'I'll do this for 1 hour and then go out."

"I'm a good student and good students do this, so I will do it now."

"I may hate this but I will finish it before I watch tv."

"I haven't liked this in the past but maybe i can learn to like it."

"I haven't done well on this in the past, but I will learn to do it well."

You may come to agree that more positive self-talk involves saying the opposite of what you used to tell yourself just before you procrastinated.

4. Just as most people can't eat a whole birthday cake in one bite, some jobs cannot be done all at once. Some people come to realize that it is harder to put something off if they slice a job up into manageable pieces and do the task piece by piece, little by little. This might mean breaking down the time required to-do a task into smaller chunks that are spaced over several days or weeks. Some people don't like large doses of something distasteful. They find that smaller doses spaced over time makes things easier to do and less procrastinatable.

5. Another way some people have reduced procrastination is to begin with an easy, an enjoyable, or the least distasteful piece of a job to get started.

6. Many ex-procrastinators have realized that working with someone else makes it less likely that they will put something off. Perhaps this would work for you.

1 comment:

Jay Boaz said...

I'll comment later.