“Prioritizing, the Procrastination Panacea”
What is procrastination? Most students describe it as putting something off until the last minute. My personal definition of procrastination is “a justification for lack of motivation.”
No one is immune to procrastination. Even some of our greatest leaders procrastinated about something (i.e., spending time with their family, exercising, smoking, eating properly, etc.).
The key is not eliminating procrastination, which is idealistic, but rather learning how to manage it, which is realistic.
When it comes to managing tasks, all things are “not” created equal. Before we can manage procrastination, we have to come to grips with the things that we can and can’t afford to procrastinate on. That’s right, some things can be put off until the last minute, just not every thing. It comes down to priorities, the panacea for procrastination.
Ask yourself, what things do I normally procrastinate on? Is it studying, writing papers, eating properly, reading, completing assignments, meeting with my professor, exercising, sending out resumes, breaking off a bad relationship? All are legitimate things that need to be done, but if you had to rank them in order of importance, what would your list look like? And in this particular scenario, don’t do what most college students would do, which is prioritize their time according to urgency (i.e., the nearest deadline).
When prioritizing tasks, you first must have a clear picture of your ultimate destination (i.e., goals) and what you want to accomplish; then you prioritize your tasks accordingly. The danger with prioritizing your tasks based on deadlines, is that everything will become emergency in your life.
Prioritizing your time is preventive maintenance, which prevents the frequent occurrence of emergencies. If you don’t believe me, think about the last time you were assigned a term paper or any other writing assignment. When the professor gave you the assignment six weeks ago, did you begin the assignment six weeks ago? How about six days before the assignment was due? What about six hours? I think you get my point.
Nevertheless, you eventually turned in the assignment regardless of how little time you allowed yourself to complete it. In retrospect, if you would have given that assignment top priority, and began to break down the project in little chunks, that term paper wouldn’t have seen so frightening the night before it was due. Why do we put ourselves through so much trauma? Because we are content on following the crowd and tradition. We say things like, “Everyone I know put off things until the last minute; I’ve made it this far putting things off until the last minute; for goodness sake, I usually perform better under pressure.”
Stop fooling yourself; would you want a surgeon to put off preparing for delicate operation that could possibly save your life? Would you want the college to put off making a decision that could determine whether or not you will graduate on time? Would you want a potential employer to procrastinate on making a decision to offer you your dream job? Of course not.
So, let’s get you off the loser’s limp procrastination treadmill. Try this during the next week, and let me know what happens.
First, list every role task that you have to perform this semester (i.e., as a student, organization/club member, employee, friend, etc. — not brushing your teeth and bathing) Consider some of the items I listed earlier.
Second, prioritize them (1 being the highest), not according to deadlines, but rather as essential tasks in pursuing your overall goals (i.e., graduate with a 3.0, get two job offers, etc.).
Third, do first things first in the order that you listed. That’s it.
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