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Techniques to Manage Procrastination

Set priorities.

  • Not:  I don’t know where to begin, so I can’t begin at all.

  • Not:  I have to do EVERYTHING!  Nothing less will do.

  • Instead:  The most important step is to pick one project to focus on.

Break the task down into little pieces.

  • Not:  There’s so much to do, and it’s so complicated.  I’m overwhelmed by my English term paper.

  • Instead:  I don’t have to do the whole project at once.  There are separate small steps I can take one at a time to begin researching and drafting my paper.

Set up small, specific goals.

  • Not:  I have to write my thesis within two months.

  • Instead:  If I write 2 pages per day, Monday-Friday, I can finish a 1st draft in 1 month.  I’ll have a revised final draft in 2 months.

Take one small step at a time.

  • Not:  It’s too much.  I’ll never get it all done.

  • Instead:  What is the one next step on my list?  I’ll concentrate on that step for right now.

Reward yourself right away when you accomplish a small goal.

  • Not:  I can’t take any time out until I’m completely finished.

  • Instead:  I spent an hour working.  Now I’ll call a friend.

Use a time schedule.

  • Not:  I must devote the whole week to this project.

  • Instead:  I can use these times this week to work on my project:
    Monday 7-8; Tuesday 7-9; Saturday 10-12.

Learn how to tell time.

  • Not:  Sorting through these papers and reorganizing my file cabinet will be a snap.  It won’t take me more than an hour, so I can do it any time.

  • Instead:  Sorting papers always takes longer than I expect, so I’ll start tonight.  I’ll spend 1 hour filing 1 stack of papers.

Optimize your chances for success.

  • Not:  I’ll do my writing this weekend at home.

  • Instead:  I’ll write during the week in a library (Choose whatever conditions are optimal for you to get work done.)

Delegate, if possible.

  • Not:  I am the only person in the world who can do this.

  • Instead:  I don’t have to do this all by myself.  I can ask someone else to do part of the job and still feel a sense of accomplishment.

Just get started.

  • Not:  I can’t write this speech until inspiration hits.

  • Instead:  I’ll write what first comes to mind, then improve it later.

Look at what you have accomplished.

  • Not:  I have hardly made a dent in all there is to do.

  • Instead:  I have reviewed my lecture notes and read 3 chapters.  That won’t guarantee me an “A,” but it’s more than I did yesterday.

Be realistic!

  • Not:  I should be able to work full-time, take 4 classes, be president of the Esperanto Club, spend more time with friends, and play tennis 2 hours a day with no trouble at all.

  • Instead:  I have limits.  I can take on fewer responsibilities and still like myself.