Procrastination is avoiding doing things which need doing. We all do this at some stage, but there are times when it can become a real problem. Failure to act can produce feelings of guilt and inadequacy, as well as lead to stress and anxiety.
Procrastinators are often accused of being lazy and disorganized, but not getting on with your work is often symptomatic of other factors, such as:
- setting yourself excessively high standards and unrealistic goals
- not being able to see the relevance of your work
- being unclear of requirements
- being afraid of a new task and not knowing where to start
- feeling you do not have the skills to do what is asked.
There are many ways we avoid work; half the battle in overcoming our inertia is to recognize our behaviours. The most effective antidote to procrastination is action.
To get things done efficiently it is important you plan your time effectively.
- Get an overview of the task and jot down the various activities/tasks required.
- Break the project into smaller tasks. These tasks are manageable, make the whole thing look easier, and allows you to use small pockets of time rather than trying to set aside a couple days, which may never happen.
- Set realistic time frames for each step. Have a flexible plan to allow for problems beyond your control.
- Emphasise effective time rather than time itself. Work in short, effective study periods and balance your study/work with recreation activities.
- Reward yourself after you have completed a task.
- Be honest with yourself. If you are going to skimp an assignment or an aspect of your work - admit it, forget the guilt and move on. Conversely, if you are going all-out to achieve a good grade, commit to planning and doing the work it takes to achieve this.
- Assess your progress. Regularly refer back to your initial planning - are you still on track? Move on quickly to a contingency plan if you strike problems.
Acknowledgement: This information was adapted with the permission of Victoria University of Wellington.