Q: Summarize your chosen strategy and explain why you picked it or explain your procrastination or multitasking problem and explain why you want to fix it.
A: As a student I am quite familiar with the problem many of us face with a deadline seems far away. We have a week to do an assignment so we put it off for a day to do some meaningless task that will have no benefit to us. Then a day becomes 3 days and 3 days becomes six days. Until it is the night before and you are staring at an empty word document and hoping your teacher is ready to read your 3-AM-redbull-enduced-self-hatred-extravaganza that is your project. Now as you curse yourself with each line of BS you write you pray your teacher will somehow make sense of it all and that you will never put yourself through this again. But let’s be real, as soon as you get the next assignment that isn’t due the next day you are just going to fall back in to that rut. It’s a vicious cycle that I am using to essentially dig myself an early grade. I used to think I was better at working than most of my friends because when I procrastinated I didn’t watch all 6 seasons of Community or clean my house from top to bottom. No, that’s too easy. I’m what I would refer to as a procrastinating workaholic. Which works something like this: say I have a paper due at the end of the week, but I also have to make a logo for an extracurricular activity due at the end of the month. Instead of taking the time to carefully plan out my hook, thesis, multiple drafts, etc. I will spend most of my time picking out the appropriate colour scheme and test various fonts until I find the one that really defines me. Both projects that have hard deadlines, but at the time of my procrastination the paper was obviously more important than the logo. As I got older and my work arguably became more important I learned the value of being able to prioritize my work. I needed to be able to recognize which tasks had to be done now and which tasks could wait for a different time. Better prioritizing my time would also help in dealing with the side effects of procrastination like sleep deprivation caused by anxiety.
Q: Explain how you will implement the strategy – be as specific as possible
A: A strategy that I have recently looked in to in hopes of counteracting my procrastinating ways is know as the Pomodoro Technique. In short, the technique states that someone can work more efficiently if they have 25-minute work periods with 5-minute breaks in between. This particular strategy seemed very appealing because it gave me a distinct time to step away from a more urgent task and do something I would much rather enjoy, even if that fun break activity was more work, but now work I actually wanted to do. I would implement this with everything I do, really whenever I have two hard deadlines but one is much closer to the other. Having a timer with not pause button ticking away while I work so I know I have to stay focused for those 25 minutes and then reward myself with something I find more interesting.
Q: What is your end goal? How will you know the strategy works for you?
A: I will know my strategy has worked for me when I begin to feel the side effects of my procrastination subside. The main reason I want to break my procrastination habits is because of all the negative effects it has had on me. If you look at procrastination from any angle it seems illogical. My procrastination has caused me to do worse on assignments that I easily could have done well in. It has caused me to have anxiety attacks that I did not know how to deal with. It would also cause me to lose sleep and not preform at a level I could be proud of. My end goal is pull myself out of this rut and stop hurting myself by putting off work.
Q: What are your critical moves?
A: My critical moves are to establish a regular study routine. As I write this blog right now my studying habits are a little sporadic. There are days where I will put off studying until 10pm and not finish my work until 2am. Then there are days where I will be on top of everything and have all my work done by 9pm at the latest. My hope is that through using the Pomodoro technique I will be able to make a more structured studying schedule so I can not only produce better quality work but have my work done more efficiently and on time.
Q: How will you shrink the change?
A: I will move from my current study habits to a more a structured system through small changes in my routine. I will be following the steps of the Pomodoro technique. First, I will take the time to make a list of the project(s) I would like to get done that day and then realistically estimate how long it will take to complete each task. I will find a quiet place to work that is free of distraction and then try and work for 25 minutes at a time, designating 5-minute breaks in between work sessions to work on other projects I would much rather be doing. After about 4 work and break sessions I will take the time to assess how well my Pomodoro sessions went and take that in to consideration the next day when I repeat the process.
Q: How will you tweak the environment?
A: I will work to ensure that any distractions while working are kept at bay through keeping my study area organized, quiet and free of clutter. This will help me to focus on the task at hand and be able to complete what I set out to do. Along with that I will also get my family and friends in changing my habits, by doing so they will not only be able to encourage and support me through this change but also hold me accountable if I go astray from my plan.