Groundhog Day, Procrastination, and You!
Welcome to February! The semester is well under way and while I am looking forward to some signs of spring the winter weather can keep me from springing into action! So in this month’s email I want to talk about downtime, dawdling, lingering, loitering, postponing, stalling… you know . . . the big P. . . PROCRASTINATION!
Merriam-Webster defines procrastinate as: to put off intentionally and habitually. Sometimes we must intentionally put things off, but when ‘habitually’ enters the definition it can be troublesome. So what does procrastination have to do with Groundhog Day? Well, groundhogs burrow underground dens that have many chambers and more than one entrance, and in an effort to quash habitual stalling it is also helpful to have many ‘entrances’. And, like Bill Murray, in the movie Groundhog Day developing healthy new habits may require several tries!
So here are several tips for motivating past the procrastination tendency.
Eat the frog first. “If you eat a frog first thing in the morning that will probably be the worst thing you do all day.” – Mark Twain Do that most dreaded task first before you check your email or turn on the tv. Make it the first thing you do today, before checking email or anything else.
Get rid of all distractions. Including turning off the Internet, the cell phone, the TV, the IPod, and any other distraction that you have control over.
Just get started. Nothing is worse than the first few sentences of a long paper, or a stack of reading that seems endless. Diving in and getting the first few sentences done, or the first paragraphs read, can go a long way in decreasing your dread and improving your motivation.
Tell yourself you’re just going to do 10 minutes. This rule is most useful for tasks that are necessary but that you really don’t want to do. You will not only make 10 minutes worth of progress when you return to it the negative connotations of “starting the dreaded task” will be gone.
Forget about perfection. Turn off spell check and grammar check; do not search for synonyms or additional resources. Put pen to paper, or use a simple word pad, to focus only on getting the gist of the assignment done.
Spread out your work. Marathon sessions are impossible to sustain, and if you do sustain them the quality of your work is sure to suffer. Start early, work in short focused bursts, and schedule reasonable amounts of time for the task.
Tell everyone. Make a HUGE deal out of how tough this task is and how you are dedicated to completing it. Tell them what times you’ve set aside for working on it and what progress you intend to make. Taking your goals public not only provides everyone with an opportunity to support you it also makes it harder not to complete the task. How embarrassing would it be to talk it up and then have to report a lack of progress!
Even challenging tasks can be made lighter by a positive attitude!
Verbalize your excuses. Literally speak the excuse out load. Something that sounds acceptable in your head can seem ridiculous when said aloud.
One more thing is similar to “just get started”. If you’ve been working hard at a task and are feeling like you can’t possibly get it completed make a deal with yourself to do just “one more thing” before you take a break or put the task on your calendar for another day.
A few reminders:
The class schedules for Summer 2010 and Fall 2010 are now available online. Registration begins March 1, 2010. Be sure to make an appointment BEFORE your registration date! Delays can result in classes filling before you have an opportunity to register!
The registration period is as follows:
Earned 55+ hours – register beginning 8 a.m. Monday, March 1
Earned 35+ hours – register beginning 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 2
Earned 0-34 hours and new students – register beginning 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 3
I hope your month is productive and happy! Remember what Phil said “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.”
Facts about groundhogs
Dead simple guide to beating procrastination
Seven powerful steps to overcoming resistance
The Science of procrastination
Learn to want it
Three rules to fight procrastination
Don’t interrupt me, I’m procrastinating