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1.2.2: Procrastination

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    25708
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    Contributed by Dave Dillon

    Original Content by Phyllis Nissila

    do-it-now-1432945_640-300x300.png

    “Do it now” by Maklay62 is in the Public Domain, CC0

    Complete the Exercise below to help you solve what is arguably the number one detriment to effective learning at school, home, and/or on the job (aka procrastination).

    This personal inventory is a bit different from others you may have taken. It incorporates very little about the usual bad habit suspects when it comes to the “P” word and includes more on the other reasons for such a habit, as suggested in the previous chapter as well as one or two other procrastination-inducers which have cropped up in our now social-media-saturated lives. Perhaps there is, in fact, more to your challenges with procrastination than the assumptions about laziness, disorganization, etc. See what you think. More importantly, see what you can do about it.

    EXERCISE 1: Do You Procrastinate?

    Directions: For each item, circle one. And feel free to add any comments you wish. Sometimes quick-answer exercises like this just don’t have enough of YOUR personal response options, but try not to over*think things. This is, after all, a simple snapshot of where your beliefs and feelings are at this moment in time.

    A. I admit it. Just like everyone else, I feel that I am lazy when it comes to getting my assignments and/or work done.

    1. usually
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    B. I am disorganized when it comes to getting my assignments and/or work done.

    1. usually
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    C. I get confused about what I am supposed to do for the assignment or task.

    1. usually
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    D. I have a hard time saying “no” to others which puts me behind in my work/studies.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    E. I have this sinking feeling that I will succumb to the usual reasons for procrastinating, no matter what they are.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    F. I just don’t think I have the organizational abilities to be able to stop at least some of my procrastinating.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    G. When I was in high school it wasn’t a problem studying for most tests the night before.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    H. I work best under pressure, so I think that procrastinating is really good for me.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    I. When what I have to study or accomplish is just not that important to me, I find it more tempting to procrastinate.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    J. I have a hard time talking myself into maintaining a better attitude about not procrastinating.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    K. I think I have more time to finish something than I usually do.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    L. It annoys me that some instructors assign so much homework when I have a life outside of school, too! So, I believe that it can be their fault that I have to procrastinate on certain things.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    M. I am very social and spending time with my friends sometimes gets in the way of doing my work.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    N. I can’t seem to stay away from social media.

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    O. Here is something (or perhaps more than one) not on this list that also causes me to procrastinate. (Possible issues might include a disability or some kind of learning challenge, homelessness or some other kind of living situation challenge, pregnancy, work hours and responsibilities, and/or personal life stress.)

    _______________________________________________________________

    1. most of the time
    2. sometimes
    3. rarely
    4. never

    As promised above, let’s get started with some immediate solutions as well as some perspectives that might, in time, help you adjust your thoughts and feelings regarding procrastination.

    EXERCISE 2: Do You Procrastinate?

    Directions: For each of your responses to Exercise 1 above, select your top five challenges when it comes to procrastinating. Create a chart, such as this, but leave yourself ample space to fill in solutions you find:

    CHALLENGE SOLUTION
    1.

    2.

    3.

    4.

    5.

     

    Procrastination

    “Do or do not – there is no try.” – Yoda

    Either a homework assignment gets done on time or it doesn’t. Over the years I have seen a lot of excuses from students who didn’t complete their assignment on time. Think about this: If someone were to give you $500 to complete the assignment on time, would you complete it sooner than you ordinarily would have? What level is your internal motivation? How important is the assignment to you? How important is your grade? How important is your class?

    Procrastination is the act of putting something off. It’s doing something that’s a low priority instead of doing something that is a high priority. We all procrastinate sometimes. But when we procrastinate on an assignment or studying for an exam until there is little or no time left, our grades suffer and it can be stressful. Learning about why we procrastinate can help us overcome.

    Reasons We Procrastinate

    • I don’t feel like it. I would rather play a video game, watch TV, hang out with friends, sleep, etc. than start my assignment. (The problem is – you might never feel like starting it.)
    • Perfectionism. I want to do it perfectly and there is not enough time to do it perfectly so I am not going to do it at all.
    • Fear of success. If I study my tail off and I earn an A on an exam, people will start to expect that I will get A’s all of the time.
    • Fear of failure. Without confidence, I can’t do the assignment well, no matter how much time or effort I put into it.

    “If we are not prepared to fail, we will never create anything original.” – Sir Ken Robinson

    These reasons have been keeping some students from completing assignments and studying for exams. Do you procrastinate? Why?

    Whatever the reason may be, procrastination is not a good idea. It often leads to stress. It can be stressful in trying to complete something if we have left it to the last minute. It can be stressful to know that we didn’t submit work that was our best. And stress can take a toll on the health of our bodies.

    There are many examples of how American society realizes that people procrastinate. FedEx is built on the fact that people need something immediately and in many cases, they have procrastinated past when regular mail would have gotten it there on time. Post offices stay open later on Tax Day because they know people procrastinated getting their taxes done. Stores offer sales days before Christmas because they know people have procrastinated their Christmas shopping.

    So how do we avoid procrastination?

    • Tell yourself to do your best all of the time. Ask yourself what is important NOW. Other peoples’ expectations of you shouldn’t matter. Be confident in yourself and in your abilities. Do the best you can and be satisfied with your effort. Realize that we’re not perfect. Make your goal to do your best and understand you don’t need to be perfect. Also, realize that you may never “feel like” doing an assignment or studying for an exam.
    • Get Started. It is the hardest part to do and will have the biggest effect on defeating procrastination. It can be simple: skim the chapter you have to read, think of a title for your paper or schedule an hour for when you will study. The rest of it will be easier once you get started.
    • Establish and rely on a process. Figure out what works best for you. Take some time to make a plan, list, or outline that allows you to see what you will do and when to complete your assignment or goal. It might be setting aside time early in the morning or waiting to watch a movie until after you’ve finished an assignment. Set your priorities and stick to them.
    • Set Imaginary Deadlines. If the paper is due in six days, tell yourself it is due in two days. Knock it out early and then enjoy not having it over your head. Fake deadlines are less stressful. And if you do end up needing more time, you have a cushion.
    • Don’t Break the Chain. Jerry Seinfeld developed a system to help prevent procrastination. He wanted to be a better comedian and believed that writing better jokes would help. To write better jokes, he thought he should write every day. His system, called Don’t Break the Chain was used to motivate himself to write every day. He started with a big wall calendar with a whole year on a page and a red marker. For each day he wrote, he would place a big red X on that day of the calendar. After a few consecutive days, he had a chain. And then the task became not breaking the chain.

    Although originally skeptical, I tried it (with exercise), and found it to work. I liked marking the big red X and I liked seeing a long string of big red X’s after a few weeks. I still use this strategy and find myself much more motivated to not break the chain than to go for a run, swim, or to the gym. If there is something you want to practice every day, try it.

    “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning, the rest of your day will be wonderful.” – Mark Twain

    I don’t suggest that you go out and eat a frog, but the point Twain makes is paramount to overcoming procrastination. He meant if you have to do something you don’t want to, the best thing to do is do it right away: get it over with as soon as possible then move on to enjoy the things you want to do.

    This might be true of going to the dentist, making a phone call you don’t want to make, or doing your homework.

    Tim Urban’s Ted Talk shines a light on procrastination.

    Video: Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator, Tim Urban TED Talk

    TimUrban_2016-embed.jpg

    https://www.ted.com/talks/tim_urban_inside_the_mind_of_a_master_procrastinator

    Licenses and Attributions:

    CC licensed content, previously shared:
    How to Learn Like a Pro! Authored by Phyllis Nissila. Located at: https://openoregon.pressbooks.pub/co...ocrastination/ License: CC-BY Attribution.
    Adaptions: Removed one exercise, modified an exercise, removed information specific to Lane Community College, opinion article, and some hyperlinks for broader audience purpose.

    “Do it now” image by Maklay62 is in the Public Domain, CC0

     


    1.2.2: Procrastination is shared under a CC BY-NC-ND license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Dave Dillon.

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