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How to Get Away from Procrastination: KDIS Practical Guide to Help Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done

  • Date 2023-08-31 10:03
  • CategoryResearch and Education
  • Hit1219

We all have those moments when we think like Bruno Mars and say, “Today I don’t feel like doing anything”. We put things on hold for a bit, but sometimes we forget to get back and start doing things until they are due, and then the time is up. At night, for some reason, when we think about the magnitude of these tasks, they seem to be exaggerated. With such anxiety, we get up the next day feeling sleep deprived and full of guilt, yet we have no choice but to stand up, get ready and work and yet again end the day feeling “behind’ our schedules. Yes, this is the problem with procrastination. In this article, we look at what procrastination is, how to  avoid it, and share some tips from KDIS students about how to avoid procrastinating. So if you want to turn over a new leaf and start the upcoming semester with new and better habits, read ahead – this article is for YOU, fellow procrastinators. 

Image Source: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/why-wait-the-science-behind-procrastination

Procrastination. Mañana Habit. Laziness. However, you want to say it, how we manage time to accomplish things has been a great challenge for many of us since time immemorial. For some, they justify such acts and say that the last minute rush gives them the positive stress to accomplish things. The problem however is that not everyone can handle the adrenaline rush very well that they end up failing to accomplish the task. So how do we become better time managers then?

The fact is, there is definitely no shortage of advice from everywhere- YouTube, books, apps, all these are created to help us manage our time yet these things seem to still fail to inspire us. The frustrating reality comes from knowing that for many of us trying to improve how we manage our time, no matter how perfectly designed these self-help tools may seem, they are unlikely to work. For instance, would anyone objectively expect that buying a tennis set and gear and having a Wimbledon champion coach like Djokovic would help make someone become a promising tennis star? Of course not. The same with the idea of using these scheduling apps and alarms without prerequisite time management skills is unlikely to cause positive time management outcomes.

Image Source: https://www.twintel.net/best-practices/why-we-procrastinate-part-1-defining-procrastination/

The good news, according to Erich Dierdorff of the Harvard Business Review, however is that there are tons of researchers that focus on studying the skills that help us develop and improve our time management skills. Under this, time management is identified as the decision-making process that “structures, protects, and adjusts” a person’s time to evolving environment conditions: awareness, adaptation and arrangement which allows us to realize time management success from failure. But are they equally important that all of us must develop all three skills to become better time managers? How do we then apply the skills to manage time effectively?

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), United Kingdom proposes “Ten Ways to Effectively Overcome Procrastination”, reflecting practical steps and suggestions on how we might improve our time management skills. They reiterated how important it is to make sure that our goals are clear in the first place as we tend to procrastinate when our goals are vague:

Image Source: CAMHS UK https://camhsprofessionals.co.uk/2021/04/09/10-ways-to-effectively-overcome-procrastination-%F0%9F%8C%8D/ 

To add to these useful self-help guides and help readers plan for the semester ahead, I asked around some KDI School students on their personal tips on how to avoid procrastination and manage their time:

Xu, Li from China shared some of her life hacks:

“Mark every deadline on your calendar once you get them and even if you think you will remember them later”.

“Set an internal deadline before the actual deadline to give yourself some breathing room later if needed”.

“If possible, find out the reason behind your procrastination- Is it because you feel like it is an easy task that you are confident that you will finish before the deadline? Is it because it is a difficult task, and you are not sure how to get started? Or is it because you feel like the task is so boring that you're dreading to do it? When you are clear on why you're procrastinating, it might be easier to overcome it”.

Natia Ghuladze from Georgia, despite considering herself to be a “non-procrastinator”, thinks that these basic tips might help:

“I do not work in the hours before the deadline. I do some research a few days or week before just to be sure that I have the appropriate materials and start writing at least 2-3 days prior to the deadline”.

“Taking a break in between studies is a must for me. Every 1-2 hours, I listen to some music or watch videos or even a film or some drama. Otherwise, I lose focus”.

“Exercising in the gym or taking a short walk is essential for my body to work properly. It keeps me more motivated and helps with my mental health as well. I do this 2-3 times a week”.

For Emmanuel Roy Aquino from the Philippines, he shared that for him, “Advance planning and implementation is the key. Gradual accomplishment of the required tasks and outputs is better instead of having to cram just days or weeks before the deadline. For instance, at the start of the semester, I try to read and study the syllabus and the readings in advance and then I try to draft concept notes or outlines for the required term papers and presentations”.

Lastly, Kanykei Temirbekova from Kyrgyztan believes in two effective techniques for how we can be better time managers: “First is known as productive procrastination which involves utilizing your procrastination time for activities that are useful and relevant to the task that you need to complete. This way, even if you put off the primary task, you are still accomplishing something meaningful. The second tip is to break down large daunting tasks into smaller, manageable parts and approach each part individually so you can focus on completing one portion at a time, making the overall task seem less overwhelming”.

Indeed, time is something that we cannot put back when it is gone, that wasting would mean letting go of opportunities and chances in life. While time management is such an elusive concept, dealing with procrastination at the end of the day starts with us. It is our personal motivation and drive that will help us achieve more things with our time. While mental health breaks and positive coping mechanisms are non-negotiable, we are faced with the reality that it is by doing things at once that will save us from the unhealthy stress and overthinking of not being able to keep up with our responsibilities.

As students trying to fulfill our academic tasks, time management is in fact a big hurdle to overcome. With the school’s high regard for school-life balance providing us with all the experiences, tools, and activities we need, we are one step closer to managing our time well to enable us to better achieve our goals and aspirations. We just need to find that flame of perseverance within us and push ourselves to do what is expected of us. After all, the realization of our visions in life starts with a simple step of starting things and by keeping an eye on the rewards of hard work, patience, and faith in the end. We will because we can!

ENECILLO, Richie Silvestre

2023 Spring / MPM / Philippines

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