Monday, June 3, 2013

Studying Tips - Understanding Why You Procrastinate

By Lachlan Haynes

Are you a procrastinator? Do you like to sleep in, half-complete tasks and leave everything to the last minute? Well join the club! 94% of people worldwide are in the same boat as you. And 94% of people also love saying the following four words: "I'll do it tomorrow". We say these words to ourselves knowing that an assessment date draws closer and closer or the list of chores gets bigger and bigger, but we just keep on saying it anyway! Unfortunately, this doesn't help us in the slightest because it results in well, nothing! And that's the point, nothing is getting done.

Unfortunately, tomorrow doesn't literally mean "tomorrow", it actually means "never". But in the now, nothing can stop you "tomorrow", because "tomorrow" is the first day of the rest of your life, tomorrow you can do anything! Tomorrow you are committed, strong and determined and the world is a different place, a place where you work so hard and fast that you complete everything in mere minutes let alone hours (in your mind anyway). But when that doesn't happen you think, "But tomorrow it will happen! Tomorrow I will be strong!" Do you notice the delusion that is happening here?

Do You See The Problem?

Procrastinators tend to tell themselves little while lies such as: "I am a perfectionist so if I'm going to do something I'm going to do it right" or "I'm almost ready to get started" or "I'm working on it, it will be done soon" or "I need more information before I get started" or "I'll get started tomorrow when I'm refreshed" or "I have a few things to do first" or "I work better under pressure" or "I just need more time." Can you notice what is happening here? It's just one excuse after another isn't it?

Have you ever felt the rush of an assignment due the next day and you haven't started yet? It may not be a good rush, but it's still a rush and that's why people do it. They then spring into action, usually with a heavy degree of dread and stress about the task ahead. But nonetheless, what was once a boring task has now taken on a challenging context. Their previously boring life now has a serious edge! This is the ultimate test and people like to test themselves - and pass (although most just fail and look a fool). In a procrastinator's mind, this rush allows you to perform to an exceptionally high standard and achieve things normal circumstances won't allow. However, it's the testing and failing that is the seriously dangerous part of this practise.

Get Ahead Of The Game

It's time to stop, take a deep breath and think for a moment about why this is happening. What could the "payoff" be? What is reinforcing the behavior? What is making you want to procrastinate? Do you like drama? Do you enjoy the rush of having to get lots of work done in a short amount of time? Do you hate being told when to do work? Do you want to have a great time first and do your school work later? Are you worried your friends won't think you're "cool" if you do your school work and hand everything in on time?

The next time you catch yourself procrastinating ask yourself these questions: 1. Where in my life or school work do I feel bored, or long for drama and excitement? 2. What does procrastinating allow me to experience that's positive and desirable? 3. How can I recreate that positive experience without having to use procrastination? 4. Conversely, what is the negative experience that procrastinating causes me?

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