Friday, November 4, 2011

Creating an Anti-Procrastination Plan

While several previous articles have discussed or eluded to time management strategies, for those of you who are particularly susceptible to procrastination, there is hope! Four empowering strategies can help you with overcoming procrastination to ensure that you complete long term assignments on time; what’s more, by providing yourself with small rewards along the way, it can actually be fun! The three basic steps involve (1) scheduling tasks for the project, (2) taking action, and (3) getting support from your friends, and (4) keeping a journal! Check out an in depth break-down of these steps below:

Scheduling Tasks
• First, compile a list of the tasks that are necessary to complete your project. For example, if you are writing a research paper, some of the tasks would include gathering your sources, taking notes and outlining and writing a rough draft. Write these down in checklist format and check off each one as you complete it. Then, reward yourself with something rejuvenating and relaxing such as fixing yourself a hot cup of tea and reading an article that interests you.

• Make a commitment to do something daily on your project, even if it is only for a few minutes. Make a note of two or three things you can complete toward the task that you can accomplish in 5 minutes; then, complete one of them and give yourself a reward – get some exercise and fresh air by visiting one of your favorite scenic parks on a sunny day or break away and have tea or coffee with a good friend.

• Plan on working on one of the tasks that you don’t enjoy and make completing this task dependent on doing something that you already have as part of your routine that is something you like to do. For instance, “I’ll spend half an hour taking notes on my sources before heading off to my yoga class.”

Take Action
• Prior to working on the task, spend 5 minutes reflecting on what you are about to accomplish. Picture the effects of procrastination with respect to your physical and emotional health. After you think about this, go ahead and get started without second guessing yourself, your intention being to complete the task in a specified time frame, with no distractions!

• Create a picture in your mind about what your behavior would look like in the next hour or day if you were not a procrastinator. Once you have developed a clear picture, use your acting skills to act out the role of an anti-procrastinator. For example, you are completely focused when making important decisions and commitments, so when someone asks for a favor, you will know just what to say without spending countless hours deliberating about it.

• When you feel super motivated to work on your assignment, get right to it at the moment you think about it and stay focused on the task until you run out of energy.

• Identify a unique reward for successful completions of tasks and/or punishment for lack thereof that is realistic and attainable. For example, you may decide that you won’t reward yourself with a takeout dinner when you don’t complete a task associated with your paper.

Use Your Friends
•Create a contract with a friend or professor to accomplish a particular task. You may also have a tutor or mentor that you can work with on this. For example, in the contract, you could say, by the end of week 1, I will have my outline complete. By week 2, I will have completed my rough draft. By week 3, I will have a draft of my final essay to have reviewed for revisions and corrections.

• Make it a point to check in with your professor or tutor to go over where you are on the project and what you have left to accomplish and ensure that you have the concepts and flow of ideas correct.

• Set a time to meet with a friend for lunch or dinner and try to elicit his/her support and encouragement on this project. . . that you would like to share your accomplishments, ideas and roadblocks on the project. Sharing your feelings about the task, especially if it is one that you are not particularly interested in clears the static cling in your mind that may fuel your procrastination.

• If you are about to approach a part of the task that you are not comfortable with such as giving a presentation about the topic and you have public speaking anxiety, ask a tutor, mentor or friend to let you rehearse the presentation to lessen the fear and make the task less burdensome.

Keep a Journal
• On a daily basis, write in your journal to reinforce your hard work on the project and give yourself credit for your work so far. Use this journal-writing time to forgive any setbacks along the way and gear up for your next anti-procrastination plan.

• Identify reasons that you are using to justify your procrastinations and if they are legitimate or not, develop some positive messages to help you stay on task and jot down ways that you can minimize internal and external distractions. For example, eliminating some of the clutter in your physical environment might help you focus better and get more accomplished in a shorter period.

• Identify negative messages that you may be reciting to yourself regarding the project (e. g., “I’ll never get this paper organized) to positive affirmations like, “By the end of the day, I will have my intro and first body paragraph well organized.”

• If you find yourself getting frustrated over the project, jot down all of your frustrations in the journal. Getting them out on paper will help get them out of your mind so you can concentrate better!

• If you have a setback, record some of the lessons you learned. For example, if you didn’t get the next two body paragraphs completed, spending extra time revising the paper may be lost.

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