As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I could clearly see this was a bad idea. I set myself up. I had waited until the tail end of a One College Avenue story-idea meeting.
“Hey, I’m interested in doing something topical – a subject like procrastination. It plagues everyone. Doesn’t everyone procrastinate? (I added hopefully.)”
No hands were raised, but surely there must be some area in life where it is hard to get started; we’re tempted to put things off. I can think of anything I’d rather do than, perhaps, write about procrastination. But if there is any time not to procrastinate, this is it.
It’s a job that’s never started that takes the longest to
Doesn't the word itself have a kind of hopeful feeling?
Let’s get started.
We have a saying at my house: “Do it now, Charles.” There is no Charles. You can say it to anyone at my house, and we will know what you mean. It sounds less bossy or obnoxious than if you used our names. And we might even do what needs to get done. For instance, if you are a 12-year-old girl who is supposed to do the Saturday morning breakfast dishes, and they are still in the sink at 4 p.m., this is a “Do it now, Charles” situation.
But how do we motivate ourselves? How can we set ourselves up for success, a feeling of satisfaction, and avoid that awful time crunch?
Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompletedWilliam James
I asked Kimberly L. Bolig, director of the Pennsylvania College of Technology Academic Success Center, if she would meet with me to share some tips on overcoming procrastination. She gave me a better understanding of it, as well as an overview of what goes on at the Academic Success Center.
The Academic Success Center offers resources for students that include tutoring, time management, a writing center and an academic mentoring program, among others. Its resources are being used more widely every academic year. Last year alone, 1,679 students came through the center for 19,000 hours of tutoring.
Understanding why we procrastinate may be the first roadblock in overcoming it. Procrastination can be debilitating.
“There is a fear of asking for help,” said Bolig, “as well as a perception that help is for someone else.”
Asking for help may be the first step in overcoming procrastination. Am I avoiding the task at hand because I don’t know how to do it, and admitting that I need help is scary? Dealing with the reality of a situation – writing a report for work, studying for a test, preparing for a presentation – and reaching out to a tutor or coworker for help can be the first step in getting started.
Let’s say I already know how to do something, but haven’t done it yet. Now what?
Bolig shares these ideas:
The trouble is that you think you have
- Block out time to do the task: Schedule it on your calendar.
- Start the task during your peak time of productivity: If you’re a morning person, don’t put it off until the evening.
- Use your resources: Talk to faculty or co-workers; network to overcome your isolation.
- Become engaged in a positive community: The people you surround yourself with affect your productivity and can hold you accountable to follow through.
- Know your strengths: Start the task by breaking it down and starting it with something that you already know how
And if you need to know the origins of “Do it now, Charles,” you can ask my husband. It’s a fantastic, long tale, and he’ll happily spin it out for you. Especially if there is something pressing you need to get done. ■