Everyone has a little trouble with finishing off tasks. Do you find yourself putting off the work till later? This might mean you have a problem with procrastination. Every other glance at the work pile seems to reveal a larger mountain of stuff. Projects, assignments, that test on Friday. It may seem frightening at first.-but there is a way to tackle that fear.
Why do we procrastinate?
Procrastination happens due to the fear of failure before we have even started. Somehow we condition ourselves to make the task seem larger than it is. Maybe we have past experiences reminding us of how bad it feels to fail or miss a deadline. Perhaps we have been humiliated by teachers, peers or our parents. You must understand that procrastination is fairly common. If we understand the root of the problem, it can be managed.
Why is procrastinating bad for you?
Sometimes we want to relax and watch a TV show instead of finishing the homework. While it seems harmless to do that once, it is not the activity that’s dangerous. The consequences of leaving work till the last minute can be ugly to deal with.
Even if you do end up finishing the work before the deadline, these things can affect you badly:
- quality of work suffers
- anxiety and panic before submission
- creative block
- pressure and palpitation
- other severe health problems
Over time, this may grow into a habit which feeds the anxiety. This anxiety further promotes the act of procrastination. You might start to feel like hiding from the growing list of tasks is the best option. And then somehow finishing off everything in one go, is the only option.
How to prevent procrastination:
Here are a few tips to tackle the problem of procrastination. Here are some general tips to handle any type of workload. Later, there are a few measures to deal with specific types of work you might be dealing with in school.
The main rules to be followed are:
Learn to prioritize
Really ask yourself which task needs to be completed first. This could be on the basis of deadlines, difficulty of the task or expected time to complete it. Ideally, deal with the task due earliest.
Make a list
This can help to clearly pin down what needs to be done. An added advantage is that once the task is complete, you can strike it off the list. The striking off is so important because it makes us feel like you’re moving forward.
State the task clearly
Use clear instructions and phrasing when making a list. While this may seem unnecessary because we already know what is to be accomplished, it is a vital step. When you see exactly what needs to be done, you won’t have any loopholes to exploit. finish chapter might seem like a pretty clear objective. But what good would this do if you can’t remember anything right after?
Give yourself very little to do. You aren’t a superhero. Hence, assigning yourself too much work in one go will only stress and burden you. Start off by giving yourself a few hours to do one task. Get a feel for your pace of working, your mood for the day, and distractions of the day. Only then should you fix the amount of work you must finish.
Break up large tasks
Divide large tasks into smaller, concise instructions to follow. Don’t spend too much time on strategy and flowcharts though. That is just another form of procrastinating.
Put away the cell phone. Request your siblings to watch their movie outside or with earphones on. If that doesn’t work, bribe them. You need to have complete concentration when doing any kind of work. If you have something on your mind that’s preventing you from giving your full attention to the task at hand -stop working. Deal with the distraction, and then continue.
Every time you finish a task, you should reward yourself for a job well done. This should be a small reward which doesn’t disrupt your work flow. A bite of chocolate should do fine.
Pat yourself on the back for finishing even the littlest of tasks. You finished something that looked impossible to even wrap your head around! This is cause for celebration.
Work hard/Play hard
When you take a break from work or study, you do just that. Don’t be guilty or worry about work now. This is your time to relax and rejuvenate. It takes discipline to chill out too.
Tips for Project Work:
- Divide: Section out the project work into components. These could be practical work, writing a report, assigning to different group members, needed permission, materials to buy, books to refer to for guidance, a mentor to report to, etc.
- Deadlines: Give each component of the project a suitable deadline. This depends on which you should do first -for example, buy the materials and do practical work before the report writing. Finally, give an overall deadline at least 2-3 days before submission date. The last few days can be used to review.
- Designate slots: For each component, there will be further smaller tasks. Each of these tasks must be completed within a span of time. Give yourself and other group members ample amount of time to finish the tasks. For example, ‘research to find an experiment’ could take you 2 hours. Stick to this time slot to feel like you have accomplished something. If further research is needed, you can allot another time slot.
- Distribute: Always distribute tasks to everyone involved in the project. Give enough time to finish the task, and remind them too.
- Don’t panic: Figure out back up plans in case anything falls through. There is always a way to forge a Plan B. Many great works were probably born out of Plan B’s. These plans should be practical and to the point.
Tips for Study:
- Material: This part involves just an overall glance or reading of the textbooks. Remember that this part is easy. Remind yourself that you are capable of reading novels or Tumblr posts at a much faster rate. One chapter is nothing for you. Skimming over the headings and subheadings are important. Just, try to understand where everything is.
- Map it out: List out concepts taught in the chapter. Teach yourself each concept like you are learning it for the first time.
- Memorize: This part involves memorizing the little details in every conceptual chunk of the chapter. Give yourself some time every day to accomplish this. Don’t spend too much time on one topic -don’t bore yourself.
- Mommy yourself : Revise. Revise. Revise. Set aside time to revise. Even if it’s boring, even if you already know the chapter. You must ask yourself the same questions in different ways, much like your mom does.
- Mantra: If something doesn’t go according to plan, remind yourself that you are the dragon warrior. There is no secret ingredient. You can always do extra on one day to make up for lost time.
In conclusion, these specific tips for project work and study can help prevent putting off these important tasks for later. Just follow a step by step procedure which you can design for yourself. You know your habits best. However, keep the general tips in mind and extrapolate them to your unique situation.
Remember. There is no secret ingredient.