OK—I admit. Sometimes I am like the cobbler’s kids who have no shoes. I procrastinate sometimes. Here is how I teach the students I tutor to overcome their procrastination. Obviously, the same techniques will apply to me. I wanted to pass them along in case you know a procrastinator (student or not).
Do you find yourself giving up or procrastinating on your homework and studying? Does it seem like there is an endless amount of work to finish between now and Christmas? I know you have heard a million times, “break it into smaller pieces”. Maybe you need another way to do that.
Here is a way that has worked for some of my students. Let’s say you have 9 chapters in your textbook to read and understand by the end of the semester (and 3 exams—3 chapters per exam). Rather than be overwhelmed by that concept, what you can do is make up 3 separate index cards (one per exam–and write which chapters must be covered for that exam). For now, just refer to the card for the first exam. Take 3 post-its (and write 1 chapter on each). Stick the post-its on the exam card. Pick a deadline for each chapter. As soon as you finish a chapter–throw the post-it for that chapter away. There is something very satisfying and empowering to be able to pitch that post-it.
As soon as you feel like procrastinating, odds are you are focused on the 9 chapters. Re-focus! Grab your chapter cards. Tell yourself—I will finish 1 card; I will throw away post-its.
This may sound like an idea that cannot work. But it gets around the mental blocks that we tend to create and then use to procrastinate. This concept worked great for one of my students. He just couldn’t get started on his reading assignments. As a matter of fact, we took a step backward from this strategy. I made a card for just 1 chapter. If the chapter was 21 pages long and he had a week to cover it, I would direct him to read only 3 pages a day. I added that if he knew he needed to take a day off during that week, he needed to have his page count for the week taken care of anyway. We would make a game of it, and try to estimate how many minutes it would take to thoroughly read those 3 pages. He began to see that no matter how huge the reading assignments, he could break it down into manageable sizes. If he had to read 140 pages during the week, but he could only bear to read 5 pages at a time, he needed to read 5 pages 4 times a day. Guess what? He quickly decided that he would rather read 20 pages at a time and be done for that day. But even if he needed to read only 5 pages at a time, he could get it done. Get the challenge or mountain down to the size where you almost laugh and say—of course I can do that much!
Success breeds success. Baby steps to the end of the course…..as one of my favorite students says, “slow and steady wins the race”!
You can succeed! Let me know if you try my techniques!