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How Not to Procrastinate

Procrastination. Why do we postpone what needs to done today until tomorrow? Often, it's a bad habit picked up at some point in life. In more serious cases, procrastination is linked to feelings of guilt, low self esteem, inadequacy and fear of success. A distorted sense of not only time, but also the scope and scale of the task inhibits us from completing the task at hand. In less serious cases, it's laziness. If we can get away with putting off a distasteful task and not suffer consequences, why not put it off again?

However, procrastination hinders success in life. It is essential that we adhere to deadlines, accomplish tasks efficiently, and meet the expectations of others.

Ten simple techniques to overcome procrastination:

1. Create To-Do Lists

Disorganization and chaos lead to procrastination. Too many tasks, big and small, can easily overwhelm us. Think of structuring your life in the same way that a business executive approaches project management. Write a list of the tasks for the day that need to be accomplished. As you complete a task, check it off. Once done, it no longer weighs on your mind and you can proceed to the next task.

2. Baby Step It

Resolve yourself to completing one task at a time, not two, three or more in a big sweep. The satisfaction you'll feel from accomplishing a single task can fuel you to take on the next. Motivation and the flip side, procrastination, can spiral up or down. Momentum builds with success.

3. Easiest First

Break the procrastination mindset by doing the easiest task first. The task that requires minimum time and effort, once done, can get the ball rolling in your day. Some people prefer to complete unsavory tasks first so they can enjoy their day. It's up to you. The point is: to start.

4. Set Deadlines before Deadlines

We often wait until the last minute instead of allotting a daily chunk of time to get things done. Push the deadline forward and ensure that you make the actual deadline. Avoid not only the stress-laden scramble at the eleventh hour, but also other more serious consequences due to late delivery of work.

5. Appointment books

In the same way that you create to-do lists, keep appointment books and jot down the time and dates when you need to make a meeting or be somewhere. In a world of Palm Pilots and PDAs, you can even set email alerts to signal when and where you need to be on any given day.

6. The Carrot & The Stick

Once you complete a task, reward yourself with a little goodie—e.g., a walk to the park, chocolate bar or a warm bath. Take breathers between tasks. If you're still procrastinating, remind yourself of the negative effects of inaction. What do you stand to lose if you don't complete the task?

7. Use Affirmations

Paste confidence-lifting affirmations on your computer and refrigerator. Replace negative thinking with positive energy. Develop faith in your abilities and competence by affirming your own worth.

8. Partner Up

Ever notice how many screenwriters it takes to write a Hollywood blockbuster? TV shows are written by teams of writers who knock their heads against the wall daily trying to figure out how to come up with a decent script. If you're having a particularly tough time with a task, find a buddy to help you.

9. Learn How to Set Goals

Don't be afraid to think about the future and what's possible with a little planning. Give yourself goals. Separate them into short-, medium- and long-term goals. Write them down.

10. Get Counseling

If you're suffering from serious procrastination issues, then identify a counselor who can help you sort out the emotional causes of the behavior. Life is short. There are quadriplegics who compete in rigorous athletic events. Blind musicians who play their instruments like virtuosos. Numerous disadvantaged people have overcome tremendous obstacles to live a vibrant life.

Carpe diem. Seize the day.

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posted by EDUwithPassion in 10/5 Top Tips!,Developing your Strengths,Strategies for Success and have No Comments

Procrastination: It's A Choice

Whether you fashion yourself one of those creative types who believe they do their best work in the last minute, the analytic and scientific core academic demands of nursing or medical school are less accommodating. Truth is, it’s better to leave the "pull it out of your hat at the last minute" strategies to rock stars and reporters.

While creativity and innovative thinking are appreciable strengths in any field, the rigorous academic demands of nursing and medical school will require first and foremost your mastery of time management. The professional and ethical qualifications and academic mastery required for entry into a medical discipline cannot be achieved in a series of "all nighters".

Besides, the evidence is clear that no matter your profession the negative side effects of procrastination — increased stress, inattention to detail and, by-and-large, work that is beneath one’s capabilities — will outweigh and overshadow any perceived benefits of the "rush" in the long run.

Why We Procrastinate

Procrastination often boils down to a lack of prioritization; Our plates are so full we simply don’t know which project, assignment or personal demands to tend to first. Especially for students in nursing and medical school, family, career demands and internships often compete for a share of a students limited time.

For some, an in depth inventory of the personal factors contributing to chronic procrastination — a procrastination profile — may aid in identifying the issues underlying the decision to "put off today what can be done tomorrow."

Procrastination Profile

Here are some questions chronic procrastinators should ask themselves:

Does the process of organization — the thinking, prioritizing, planning and acting in accordance with these plans prove difficult? (People with ADD/ADHD may fall into this category)

Do these tasks seem so overwhelming that even minimal efforts seem futile?

Do hostile feelings towards someone cause you to want to punish them by putting things off?

Does establishing a routine and schedule cause feelings of rebellion that leads to self-sabatoging your routine and schedule?

Prioritization — The Arch Enemy of Procrastination

Though not impossible to prioritize and procrastinate at the same time, prioritization raises the often unconscious urge to procrastinate to conscious level. Experts say this recognition is the first step toward breaking the habit.

This is where some tough decisions need to be made. Indefinitely postponing the annual family trip to the beach or your weekly poker night with friends in order to concentrate on more pressing concerns (an overdue research paper for instance) is not easy at first.

However, by prioritizing, we put ourselves in a position of power and announce to the world "we" are in charge of our lives and how we run them. Employers, friends and, yes, even loved ones will (eventually) grow to respect this.

Organization

After prioritization, organization is the next crucial step on the procrastinator recovery plan. Organization is key to accomplishing more, enjoying more immediate results and fortifying your commitment to change.

Let’s face it, its much easier to initiate a priority school project when we can locate the syllabus. Faced with a pile of manila folders overflowing with coursework, the best we can do is straighten everything out. Frustrating yes, but also very important. Setting aside time each day to organize will help you get to work on your priorities more quickly.

Time Management Tips to Beat Procrastination

Time management is the glue that holds all other procrastination ending strategies together. Without it, expert psychologists agree that all other strategies will ultimately fail. Use a day runner or weekly calendar to help you organize and prioritize your schedule. These tools will aid you in thinking forward through the semester, noting reading assignments, due dates for important projects, papers and exams, and so on. Break down complex assignments such as research papers into week by week objectives to accomplish. This can be listed in no particular order and will give you a handle on just what you need to accomplish in a given week.

Just don’t beat yourself up if you don’t accomplish everything you scribble down. It’s easy to be overly ambitious on paper. Just experiment at first and do whatever works for you. Continually modify and adjust until you find a system that works best for you.

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