Essay Expert. (n.d.) 15 Ways to Beat Procrastination. Retrieved from: http://essay.expert/15-ways-to-beat-procrastination [Accessed on: 13 October 2016]
The weather is getting cooler and the crispness of autumn is in the air, making it that bit more difficult to find the motivation to get out of bed and attend lectures or work on assignments…right?
This may be true, but:
- Attending lectures is still important. Formative Assessment 2 (for year subjects) and Summative Assessments are still coming, don’t waste opportunities to pick up useful hits and tips on how to tackle your assessments because staying home watching netflix seemed like a better idea at the time.
- You’ve paid good money to be here – or your parents / sponsors have. Don’t put pleasure before business, get your money’s worth, attend lectures and seize every opportunity to make what is left of the semester count.
If these two pearls of wisdom are not helping to motivation you, perhaps some ideas on how to deal with procrastination will.
Tips for Beating Autumn Procrastination
Definition: Procrastination - To irrationally put off important tasks.
1. What’s it worth to you?
A major motivator in life, and for students, is how much you value a set goal or task. If you don’t care that much about it, chances are your motivation will be low and the risk of procrastination high.
By “value” we are not only talking about the importance of the goal or task, but also the enjoyment value. Goals or tasks that are daunting, unpleasant or boring easily demotivate us, and increase the possibility of procrastination setting in.
How can you overcome this particular obstacle?
- Determine why the goal / task is important. This will require you to be very honest with yourself; is this the assessment that could save a failing grade, even though you hate the subject? By increasing the value of a goal / task in your mind, you may be able to increase your motivation.
- Determine the cost of the goal / task. What will it cost you in additional time and money if you don’t get a particular task done or don’t achieve your goal? Think in terms of the financial cost of having to pay for a supp. or repeat a subject, or the additional months or years it will add to your time at college.
- Reward and Punishment. Or you could keep it simple by rewarding yourself for doing the right thing and punishing yourself for procrastinating.
2. It’s my personality
For some people procrastination is a personality trait they are born with and have little control over – these people are easily distracted, impulsive and tend to have low self-esteem. Does this sound at all familiar?
You may not be able to change your personality, but you can make it work for you by adjusting your surroundings – by creating an environment that supports work and discourages avoidance.
Things you can do to create a work-friendly environment include:
- Eliminate distractions. Switch off your cell phone; remove the X-box, Playstation, or whatever gaming device you use from the room; switch off the tv; disconnect the WiFi / internet.
- Don’t stop to think. Procrastination has a sneaky way of disguising itself as a thought process. Don’t be that guy who stops to think about the best way to illustrate a marketing idea and ends up planning the sandwich you want to make for lunch instead.
- Be prepared. Make sure you have everything you need to hand when you sit down to work, that way you cannot be distracted by searching for your favourite pen or stopping to think about where you saw that quote that perfectly summed up your argument.
3. How do you and eat an elephant?
According to the proverb…one bite at a time.
What does this even mean?! When faced with a really big task or assignment, the big picture can be overwhelming and can reinforce procrastination. Rather than focusing on the huge end result, break the task / assignment up into smaller, manageable, achievable parts.
Another way of dealing with a daunting task is by alternating it with something you enjoy doing. If you work steadily throughout the day, focusing for a good 30 – 60 minutes on the task you don’t enjoy and alternating it with 20 – 30 minutes of something you do enjoy, you will not only make steady progress, but you’ll also have a positive motivator (the task you enjoy doing) to help you keep on track.
4. In search of perfection
Procrastination is some times best friends with another personality trait that goes by the name of “Perfectionist“. For some people every task / assignment has to be perfect – this is not only unrealistic, it is unnecessary and merely feeds the procrastination monster.
When struggling with feelings of procrastination linked to perfectionism, remind yourself that it is more important to complete a task / assignment, than it is for it to be perfect.
5. Time Management and Concentration
These are two skills you can consciously work on to improve and even beat procrastination. To find out more on how to improve your time management and / or concentration, visit these topics on the blog.
Chambers, A. (2015). Seven Steps to Help Conquer Procrastination: A Different Kind of Spring Cleaning (Part 1). Retrieved from: http://www.mobar.org/media-center/news-blog/seven-steps-to-help-conquer-procrastination-part-1/ [Accessed on: 12 September 2016].
Dean, J. (2014). 10 Foolproof Tips for Overcoming Procrastination. Retrieved from: http://www.spring.org.uk/2014/03/10-foolproof-tips-for-overcoming-procrastination.php [Accessed on: 12 September 2016].
Dean, J. (2011). How to Fight the Four Pillars of Procrastination. Retrieved from: http://www.spring.org.uk/2011/09/how-to-fight-the-four-pillars-of-procrastination.php [Accessed on: 12 September 2016].
Todd, D. (2012). Overcoming Procrastination: Tips for Overcoming the Bane of all College Students. Retrieved from: http://www.collegeview.com/articles/article/overcoming-procrastination [Accessed on: 12 September 2016].
How often do you find that you’ve run out of time? For some people, it feels as if there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done.
Below is a short quiz, courtesy of Mind Tools, the purpose of which is to identify aspects of time management you need help with. You will be able to find additional and related posts on the Student Wellness Blog that will help you with learning to manage your time more efficiently and effectively.
- For each statement note which response best describes you and write down the point value (e.g. Q.1 – Rarely = 2 pts; Q.2 – Very Often = 5 pts).
- Be sure to answer the questions as you actually are, and not how you hope or wish to be.
- When you are done, total up your points to get your final score.
15 – 30 Ouch! The good news is that you’ve got a great opportunity to improve your time management and long term success. However, to realize this you are going to need to work on your time management skills.
31 – 45 You’re good at some things, but there is room for improvement. Identify where your time management skills are falling short and with some changes you will most likely find that your life will become less rushed and stressful.
46 – 75 You know how to manage your time efficiently. You may have some areas you’d like to tweak but overall you’re doing well.
As you went through and answered the questions you may have picked up on areas where your time management is lacking. Below is a summary of the main time management areas explored by the quiz, and a guide to what posts you need to keep a look out for to help you improve on them.
Goal Setting (Questions 6 & 10)
One way of managing your time effectively is by setting goals. When you know where you are going, you can then plan for what exactly needs to be done, and in what order. Without proper goal setting, you may waste time on a muddle of conflicting priorities.
People tend to avoid goal setting because it takes time and effort. What they fail to see is that a little time and effort now, saves a lot of time, effort and frustration in the long run.
Visit the Goal Setting posts that are already available on the blog – there you will find tips on how to set goals and avoid common pitfalls.
Prioritisation (Questions 1, 4, 8, 13, 14 & 15)
Prioritising what needs to be done is a vital part of good time management. Without it, you may work really hard but not actually achieve the results you were hoping for because you were working on tasks that were strategically unimportant.
Most people make use of a “to-do list” system of some sort. The main error with these lists is that they are just a collection of things that need to be done, in no particular order. To work efficiently you need to identify and work on the most important, highest value tasks first. By doing this you won’t get caught out trying to get a critical task done as the deadline approaches.
Visit the Time Management posts already available on the blog for tips on how to create effective, time managing “to-do lists”.
Managing Distractions & Interruptions (Questions 5, 9, 11 & 12)
Having a plan and knowing how to prioritise it is one thing. The next step is knowing what to do to minimize interruptions and distractions when you are working on implementing your plan and getting tasks done. Although interruptions and distractions are a natural part of life, there are things you can do to minimize their time-robbing effects, something as simple as closing your door when you are working, or switching off your cell phone.
Procrastination (Question 2)
“I’ll do it later” has led to the downfall of many a student. After too many “laters” the work piles up and any task seems insurmountable. The first step to beating procrastination, is recognising that you are a procrastinator. Next you need to figure out why – Are you afraid of failing? Are you not understanding the work? Are you focusing on less important, low value tasks because they are easy and give you a false sense of achievement?
Once you know why you procrastinate you can start planning ways of breaking the habit. Reward yourself for getting the task done, and remind yourself regularly of the consequences of not doing the boring, high value tasks.
Scheduling (Questions 3 & 7)
Much of time management boils down to scheduling your time effectively. When you know what your goals are and you’ve prioritised them, the next step is to create a schedule that keeps you on track, and protects your from unnecessary stress.
This means understanding the factors that affect the time you have available to you. You not only need to schedule priority tasks, you also need to leave room for interruptions, and build in contingency time for unexpected events that would otherwise wreak havoc on your schedule. By creating a realistic schedule that reflects your priorities and supports your goals, you are gaining control over your time, as well as keeping a healthy work-life balance.
To learn more about how to schedule in “safety margins” and make the most of the time available to you, visit the Time Management posts already available on the blog.
How Good is Your Time Management? (n.d.). Retrieved from: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newHTE_88.htm. [Accessed on: 13 February 2017].
ADD/ADHD is not a problem confined to childhood. Many adults who were diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as children find that certain of the symptoms have followed them into adulthood. Whereas for some a diagnosis of ADD/ADHD is only made in adulthood.
The purpose of this month’s FOCUS ON topic is to provide you with information regarding adult ADD/ADHD: signs & symptoms in adults, the effects of adult ADD/ADHD and ways of helping yourself or someone you may know who has ADD/ADHD.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) / Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
ADHD – is a developmental and behavioural disorder that is characterised by levels of inattention, distractibility, hyeractivity and impulsivity. Typically symptoms are inappropriate for a person’s age or developmental level and cause problems in everyday life.
ADD – is a label with the same meaning as ADHD. At one time, ADD referred to a disorder involving difficulty paying attention or focusing attention without hyperactivity.
Source: Bhandari, S. (2014). Glossary of ADHD Terms. Retrieved from: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-glossary
Myths about ADD/ADHD in Adults
Myth: ADD/ADHD is a simple problem of being hyperactive or not listening when someone is talking to you.
Fact: ADD/ADHD is a complex disorder that involves impairments in focus, organisation, motivation, emotional modulation, memory, and other functions of the brain’s management system.
Myth: ADD/ADHD is just a lack of willpower. Persons with ADD/ADHD focus well on things that interest them; they could focus on any task if they really wanted to.
Fact: ADD/ADHD looks very much like a willpower problem, but it isn’t. It’s essentially a chemical problem in the management system of the brain.
Myth: Brains of persons with ADD/ADHD are over-active and need medication to calm down.
Fact: Under activity of the brain’s management networks is typical of persons with ADD/ADHD. Effective medications increase alertness and improve communication in the brain’s management system.
Myth: Those who have ADD/ADHD as children usually outgrow it as they enter their teens.
Fact: Often ADD/ADHD impairments are not very noticeable until the teen years, when more self-management is required in school and elsewhere. Also, ADD/ADHD may be subtle, but more disabling during adolescence and adulthood than in childhood.
Myth: Unless you have been diagnosed with ADD/ADHD as a child, you can’t have it as an adult.
Fact: Many adults have struggled all their lives with unrecognised ADD/ADHD impairments. They haven’t received help because they assumed that their chronic difficulties, like depression or anxiety, were caused by other impairments that did not respond to the usual treatments.
Myth: ADD/ADHD does not really cause much damage to a person’s life.
Fact: Untreated or inadequately treated ADD/ADHD often severely impairs learning, family life, education, work life, social interactions, and driving safely. Most of those with ADD/ADHD who receive adequate treatment, however, function quite well.
Brown, T.E. (2005). 10 Myths and Facts about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD). Retrieved from: http://www.drthomasebrown.com/pdfs/myths_and_facts.pdf [Accessed on: 25 February 2015]
Common Signs & Symptoms of Adult ADD/ADHD
ADD/ADHD in adults presents quite differently than it does in children. Furthermore, because each person is unique different people will experience different symptoms and symptom clusters. The following categories are some of the most common signs & symptoms of adult ADD/ADHD:
Inattention & Concentration Difficulties
Adults with ADD/ADHD often have difficulty with staying focused and following through with mundane, daily tasks. Symptoms in this category are sometimes overlooked because they are not as outwardly disruptive as other symptoms such as hyperactivity and impulsivity.
Symptoms of inattention & concentration difficulties include:
- “zoning out” without realising it.
- extreme distractibility – inability to stay on track due to wandering attention
- difficulty paying attention or focusing – for example when reading or listening to others
- struggling to complete tasks – even simple ones
- tendency to overlook details, resulting in errors or incomplete work
- poor listening skills – includes difficulty in remembering conversations and following instructions
It is common knowledge that people with ADD/ADHD find it difficult to maintain their focus on tasks which they find uninteresting. However, what many don’t know is that people with ADD/ADHD also have a tendency to become over-absorbed in tasks that they find stimulating and interesting i.e. they become hyper-focused.
Hyper-focus is a type of coping mechanism for people with ADD/ADHD, it’s a way of tuning out distractions. On the positive side hyper-focus is useful when channelled into productive activities; however, on the negative side a hyper-focussed person tends to become so engrossed with what they are doing that they can lose track of time and neglect other things that they are meant to be seeing to, which could lead to problems at work and with relationships.
Disorganisation & Forgetfulness
Adults with ADD/ADHD often struggle with maintaining order in both their work and personal lives; this includes prioritising what needs to be done, time management and keeping track of tasks and responsibilities.
Symptoms of disorganisation and forgetfulness include:
- poor organisation skills
- tendency to procrastinate
- trouble with starting and finishing projects
- chronic lateness
- frequently forgetting appointments, deadlines and commitments
- constantly misplacing or losing things
- underestimating the amount of time required to complete a project or task
If you have impulse problems you may find that you struggle with: being patient; controlling your behaviour, comments and responses; acting or reacting without thinking the consequences through first; rushing to complete tasks without reading the instructions; interrupting others.
Symptoms of poor impulse control include:
- frequently interrupting others or talking over them
- poor self-control
- blurting out thoughts that are rude or inappropriate without thinking
- addictive tendencies
- act recklessly or spontaneously, without regard for the consequences
- having trouble with behaving in socially appropriate ways e.g. sitting still through a lecture period
Many adults with ADD/ADHD find it difficult to control their emotions, particularly those around anger and frustration.
Emotional symptoms include:
- sense of underachievement
- inability to deal with frustration and frustrating situations
- easily flustered and stressed out
- irritability and mood swings
- trouble staying motivated
- hypersensitivity to criticism
- short, at times explosive, temper
- low self-esteem
Hyperactivity & Restlessness
Hyperactivity is probably the best known symptom of ADD/ADHD but is only experienced by a small percentage of adult ADD/ADHD sufferers. The symptoms of hyperactivity often become more subtle and internal as the ADD/ADHD child matures into adulthood.
Symptoms of adult hyperactivity include:
- feelings of restlessness and agitation
- tendency to take risks
- getting bored easily
- racing thoughts
- constant fidgeting, trouble sitting still
- craving excitement
- multi-tasking without getting anything done
In Part 2 of Focus On: ADD/ADHD we will be looking at the Positive & Negative Effects of Adult ADD/ADHD
*The information contained in this post is for informative purposes only and is not a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.
Segal, R. & Smith, M. (2014). Adult ADD/ADHD: Signs, Symptoms, Effects and Treatment. Retrieved from: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/add-adhd/adult-adhd-attention-deficit-disorder.htm [Accessed on: 25 February 2015].