Student Dialog - Procrastination
Brian: Well, at least I have a lot of time to complete my semester paper in English. It's not due until after the break.
Deena: Have you started it yet?
Brian: No, it can wait.
Deena: Now that kind of procrastination really stresses me out. I never know when something new will crop up with the family or the farm.
Brian: So, by putting off writing the paper, I'm creating a lot more stress for myself?
Deena: Probably. To write a paper you have to do some research and preparation, right? That takes time. So, the sooner you get started, the easier it is.
Brian: You know, when I start to really think about everything I have to get done, I become overwhelmed.
Deena: Right. And there are actually a few things you can do to avoid pitfalls.
Skills for Time Management
The last item on the four-part list of skills for time management is avoiding pitfalls. To a great extent, avoiding pitfalls amounts to avoiding procrastination and time wasters, as well as ways to make study time more effective and efficient.
- Be aware of your best time of the day. When do you study best? Schedule study time at a time of day when you feel most productive and use your best study hours for the classes that are hardest or you like the least.
- Use waiting time. Have short study tasks ready to do when you are waiting, such as between classes, while waiting for a friend, or standing in line somewhere. Carry 3 x 5 cards with you that contain facts, formulas, or definitions and use time between classes to review them. Record your notes and listen to them on the bus, when exercising or walking to class.
- Use a regular study area. Find a quiet place with little traffic where you can study everyday. make sure you have a table and chair available. If you are studying at a computer table, shut the computer off so that you don't become distracted (tempted) by E-mail or Instant Messenger.
- Study where you will be alert. Do not study where you sleep and avoid soft chairs and sofas. You need ENERGY, not relaxation.
- Pay attention to your attention span. Keep a note pad next to you while studying to jot down random thoughts that interfere with your studying. Get them out of your mind and onto a sheet of paper so that you can refocus on studying.
- Plan the length of your study sessions. Break study time into shorter sessions (four hours maximum) throughout the day and take five to ten minute breaks between sessions. Estimate the amount of time each task will take and plan enough time in your schedule.
- Agree with living mates (roommates, parents, spouses, or kids) about study time. Have set times or a signal to indicate that you are studying and need to be left alone. Try using a "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door.
- Get off the phone. Do not use the phone as an excuse to not study. When studying, let the answering machine pick up your calls, or go study somewhere where there is no phone.
- Learn to say no. People understand that you need to study.
- Plan your day each morning or the night before, and set priorities for yourself. Gather the materials you will need to complete your morning tasks. Pack your lunch and book bag.
- Call ahead. Before walking all over campus to get a form or go to a meeting, find out what you need or directions to where you are going.
- Do just one more thing. Before going to bed, try to do just one more thing to make the day more complete, and eliminate one task for the next day.
- Notice how others misuse your time. If your friends or roommate is not respecting your study time, then find somewhere else to study.
- Be sure and set deadlines for yourself whenever possible and reward yourself by doing something you enjoy when you get things done as you had planned.
- Make class time your best study time. Go to class prepared; if you did not read the whole assignment, at least look over it and review your notes from previous classes. Listen attentively and paraphrase what the professor says in your own words.
- Do NOT procrastinate.
- Be realistic in your expectations of yourself.
If you were to monitor your time for a day you would be sure to find at least one, or maybe even more, time wasters. A time waster is something that occurs in the day that is not necessary to your day; if it did not occur, you could have probably gotten something else done in its place. A time waster prevents you from accomplishing some goal. The two main time wasters are watching television and talking on the phone. It is important to recognize time wasters so that you can make good use of your time. What are some of your favorite ways to waste time?
- "One more day won't make any difference; I'll just put that off until tomorrow."
- "It won't matter if I'm a few minutes late; no one else will be on time."
- "I work best under pressure."
- "I'll watch just fifteen more minutes of TV."
If you have ever said one of the above or something quite similar, you have most likely been dealing with procrastination.
What is procrastination?
Procrastination is the avoidance of doing a task, which needs to be accomplished. It has a high potential for painful consequences. This can lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, depression, and self-doubt among students. It interferes with the academic and personal success of students.
Why do students procrastinate?
Procrastination means not managing your time wisely. You may be uncertain of your priorities, goals, and objectives. Therefore, you keep putting off your academic assignments to a later date. Students also procrastinate because of personal problems, boring tasks, fear of failure, unrealistic expectations, and perfectionism. You may have difficulty concentrating, and waste time daydreaming and staring into space instead of completing the task. You could be overwhelmed with the task and afraid of getting a failing grade. As a result, you spend a great deal of time worrying about your upcoming exams, papers and projects, rather than completing them.
- Recognize self-defeating problems such as fear and anxiety, difficulty concentrating, poor time management, indecisiveness, and perfectionism.
- Identify your personal goals, strengths, weaknesses, values, and priorities. Post your goals so that you are reminded of them daily.
- Discipline yourself to use your time wisely. Set priorities and schedule how you plan to accomplish them.
- Study in small time blocks instead of long time periods.
- Take big jobs and break them into a series of small ones. For example, take a long reading assignment and break it up into several smaller ones.
- Motivate yourself to study. Dwell on your successes, not failures.
- Try to study in small groups so that others keep you motivated.
- Set realistic goals for yourself to accomplish.
- Modify your environment. Eliminate or minimize noise and distraction. Ensure adequate lighting and have necessary equipment and supplies available. Don't get too comfortable when studying.
- Make sure your study area is neat.
- Convince yourself that the task is worth doing, even if it's hard to get started.