Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Whatsapp, Linkedin, and all the emails and wonderful websites to browse… and your homework suffers. It has nearly become a law for us to spend more time on the computer than is needed, and no matter how resolute we believe we are, we often end up back in the social media where the whole mess of procrastination started.
Let’;s calm down for a moment, and see what we can do. “Time management” is the buzzword nowadays, yet whenever I try to ask for it, it never magically becomes part of me. If you are a person of faith, you keep asking for time management, yet you still waste your time subconsciously, you often feel tempted to abandon your faith because of this “unanswered prayer”. Actually, you are the answer to your prayer – you just have to seep in a little self-control here and there.
1. Plan your homework, and start assignments as soon as you get them. Estimate (or time yourself using a stopwatch – see #4) the time you need to finish an essay, a project, or a maths problem. Then, work on it by doing the relevant research, by studying and/or simply doing it. Always leave some time to check your answer.
2. Sleep and wake up early. Sleeping early brings better health and increased attention, and waking early helps you catch the worm. Students who wake early get higher grades, and grow up to become more productive members of society. You get some time for exercise, which not only makes you healthier but also more attentive. You also don’;t rush too much, making mistakes or losing things along the way – haste makes waste. Finally, you discipline yourself and hence develop self-control – which is a MUST to eliminating procrastination!
3. Always keep a handheld stopwatch beside you whenever you turn on the computer, or embark on other things. But don’;t use any stopwatch on the computer. You’;ll forget it! You should have it on one of your hands, and look at it. After all, stopwatches are affordable, and never more valuable than time itself. By the way, don’;t deceive yourself by resetting the stopwatch.
Apart from to-do lists, keep a “log of failure”. Before you go to bed, record on that “log” everything you have done, everything you have not done or finished, and the amount of time wasted (the different periods of time recorded by your stopwatch), along with how it was wasted. Like a to-do list, each item on the log should be nothing but keywords. Self-esteem is more worthless than dust, compared with the time you have lost and can never snatch back!
You may also keep a list of things you’;d love to do in your spare time, such as learning a foreign language or a musical instrument. Instead of turning to Facebook whenever you’;re moody, why not tap into your this list and make yourself happy?
Examine your “log of failure” every now and then, and identify the unfinished tasks that re-occur. The next step: you must make time to finish them!
4. Now that you’;ve found your weak points, start small. Start by insisting that you do one or two of these tasks at a time; learn to control your time one or two courses at a time. After a week, give yourself one more task and one more course to end your procrastination. Don’;t expect the demon of procrastination to leave you overnight, but remember that when it does, all the effort you have invested is worth it!
5. I am writing from personal experience: if you intend to work online for some extra income, set aside some time to sit down and write a business plan. Get serious about it. Explain to yourself (and your family) why you need to earn online, and how you intend to meet that goal. For instance, you may be a History student who loves to blog about travel and culture. Then your online business plan should be about any one of these: (a) paid blogging in which you decide what to write, (b) paid travel writing articles (c) History papers for freelancers and (d) tuition for younger students. In Hong Kong we have plenty of online tutor/tuition demand directories such as TutorOne, Tutor HK and LSForum.
Finally, think about the wonderful things you could have done and learnt and enjoyed if you had, by some physics, got back the time you have lost. Since that “freak of nature” doesn’;t exist yet, carpe diem – seize the day!
Once again, self-esteem and…. the lurking desire to “seem” less a procrastinating student… is more worthless than dust, compared with the time you have lost and can never snatch back!