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Overcoming procrastination

Last June 13, I discussed why students procrastinate and how they can avoid doing so (Rx for procrastination). I invited readers to share strategies to overcome procrastination.

Here are readers’ suggestions and comments.

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Set realistic goals

Sam Tomafore says: “I am a trainer and consultant (www.beatprocrastination.com.au). For students (or anybody) to stop procrastinating, they have to first discover why they do it, or to use your words ‘what causes it?’ Goal selection is important. I wrote an article entitled ‘There Are Four Major Reasons Why People Procrastinate’ for http://ezinearticles.com. Excerpts follow:

“Too many people set goals that are simply unrealistic. Too big, they want it too soon, and they wonder why they don’t have any results in their life. What happens to a person who is consistently setting big goals that are outside of their scope, outside of their belief system, and they keep coming short of them? What kind of pattern does it set up in their mind? That sort of person starts to say, ‘Why do I bother with this goal setting stuff—I don’t ever achieve anything.’

“Set yourself a goal that is realistic, something you can see that isn’t too far and isn’t overpowering, not too far away, but at the same time, giving you a bit of a stretch, getting you out of your comfort zone. And once you’ve done that, and you’ve built your belief, you’ve built your power, then you set yourself another realistic goal, with another stretch factor. And once you’ve done that, another one. So it’s like a series of stepping stones, still getting you in the same direction, but having a staggered approach. Also, the wrong goal is something that’s too low. It doesn’t stimulate you, drive you, because you’ve done it before or you can do it or it’s simple. It doesn’t give you that drive, to give you that ‘take action step,’ to beat procrastination and help you as well.”

Pat Bayona says: “Type out your goals or motivation for studying and post them on the wall near your bed. When my siblings and I were kids, we would learn about alphabets and numbers through the various posters and visual aids put up in our bedrooms and classrooms, specifically done so we would not forget.

“I don’t see any reason why we should stop posting reminders in our bedrooms. Even as adults, we still continuously forget about our priorities in life, we forget the ‘big picture’ all too often, and we procrastinate.”

Autopilot your schedule

Jamie Yap says: “I am a senior mathematics major at the University of the Philippines … Here are some advice for struggling students.

“After each lecture, do whatever it takes (in fact, be ruthless!) to understand even the minutest details before the next lecture starts. This will help you distribute your workload over the whole semester by forcing you to digest small chunks of information at a time. Imagine falling into the trap of ‘deep procrastination’—postponing study until the middle of the semester (now the small monster has metamorphosed into a hideous beast!).

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“That paper on ‘Don Quixote’ that’s due the next day would invariably be written poorly, or never be written at all (you’re still on page three!). The next day’s math classes will inevitably be a blur—again, because you still haven’t gone past chapter two (and the teacher is already in chapter seven!).

“The worst part is you only have a few days before the test. Ideally, you should have finished studying lecture materials for your exams at least three days before the big day.

“Having your first exposure to the material only a day before the exam would not give you enough time to develop connections between concepts, and patch up all holes in your understanding of the material. You need at least those three days to strategize for the exam, to answer practice tests, to do confidence building tasks and, last but not least, to relax (do something other than studying for the test, get some sunlight!).”

Cal Newport, a post-doctoral candidate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, talks about “autopiloting your schedule.” Each week, the work that we do can be divided into two kinds: regularly occurring tasks and nonregularly occurring tasks. His tip? “Assign every regularly occurring task to a specific day in the week. Or assign tasks to a specific time.

“Here’s how I autopiloted my schedule:

“Prepare for job interviews, applications, or anything career related: Sunday evening

“Update notes for Fourier Analysis class: every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon to early evening

“Update notes for Complex Analysis class: every Wednesday and Friday afternoon

“Digest material for thesis: Monday morning, Wednesday and Friday evening

“Reply to e-mail, miscellaneous org commitments: Saturdays.”

Read Newport’s blog—http://calnewport.com/blog/category/tips-fighting-procrastination/.

Gilbert Forbes says: “Can we repost the article ‘Rx for Procrastination’ on our blog? The Learning Captain (www.school-principal.blogspot.com) was created to help educators and school managers particularly in the public school system.

“Your article was so timely that we have already posted it for our followers. We can delete it just in case you will not permit us. Our blog is free of ads and was created solely for public service.”

My reply: For reposting, please ensure that you have placed the pertinent source information (my name, title of article and column, newspaper, section, date). The Inquirer holds the rights to my columns, so add a link on your blog to the Inquirer.net.

Thank you for supporting my work, including books. I commend your service to our public schools.

E-mail the author at [email protected]

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TAGS: Education, personal development, Procrastination
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