Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Danger of Procrastination

"That assignment is not due for another week."  "I can do this tomorrow in study hall." "I don't want to do my vocabulary now.  I just want to relax."
Procrastinating is a vice we all face from time to time.  There are things you should do, however, to guard yourself from allowing procrastinating to become a habit and causing problems in our lives.

Procrastination occurs when we put off a task we need to do (usually not something we want to do or we'd get it done immediately).  We typically find other things to do that we either enjoy better or think are a higher priority than the task at hand.

Learn to be sensitive to the "pulls" that are tempting you to sway from the task at hand.  You cannot stop a habit if you fail to recognize the characteristics of that habit.
If you find yourself doing any of the following, these are common procrastination signs:
  • Crave a snack as soon as you sit down to study.
  • Fail to have the necessary supplies to complete the task when you sit down to do it.
  • Spend too much time (days) to decide on a topic.
  • Carry books around all the time, but never open them to study.
  • Get angry if a parent asks “Have you started yet?”
  • Find numerous "reasons" to not do your work.

Don't be too critical of yourself if you recognize any of these signs in yourself.  You are a perfectly normal student.  You do need to do what you can to avoid allowing procrastination to become more than just an occasional challenge.
  • Set a deadline and stick with it.  There will be many little interrupters that could sway you from the task.  As a student, you must train yourself to finish the task at hand first.  It may seem ridiculous that you cannot work on multiple tasks at the same time, but you need to train yourself to finish what you started.  Part of how others view your dependability will come from your commitment and success at completing a task.
  • In order to complete a large task, set small goals.  Chunking a large assignment is completely acceptable and sometimes preferable.   Taking small steps helps keep you from getting overwhelmed by the big picture.  In addition, motivation for the next step can come from the feeling of accomplishment from finishing a previous step.
  • Set a specific time to complete a task.  Then treat this time as you would an appointment.
  • Set up your own "reward" system.  "If I get XYZ accomplished, I can treat myself to an ice cream cone or an I-tunes card."
  • Appoint someone as a "check-in" person.  Having someone you trust to check in on your progress may be just the help you need to keep focused. 
Procrastination is not a vice that has to become a problem.  Fixing any problems you may have in high school will help you be more successful when you go to college or even into the workforce.

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