Procrastination: Causes and Cures

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What are the causes of procrastination?

  • Rebellion: I don’t want to do it!  I don’t have to do it!  You can’t make me do it!  I won’t do it!
  • Fear of Failure: No matter how much I study I still won’t do very well, so I’m just going to study enough to get by.
  • Fear of Success: If I do well in this class, they will expect me to do well all the time.  That’s too much pressure.
  • Perfectionism: What if I try and I don’t get an “A.”
  • Lack of enjoyment: I don’t like this class, this book, these problems, this paper.  So I turn to more enjoyable, immediate activities, i.e. T.V., the paper, cleaning my desk, talking on the phone.
  • Being too tired: After going to school, working, playing or participating in extracurricular events, I’m just too tired to study.  I’ll get up real early tomorrow, or I have all day Saturday, or I’ll study tomorrow night, I’ll be fresher then.

How about you? Do you procrastinate?

Step 1 Answer these questions and keep track of your answers. Self-score your results as described at the bottom of the page.
Step 2 Be prepared to share your thoughts about your responses with the class..

 

1.   I often find myself performing tasks that I had intended to do days before.

___ True
___ False

2.   I often miss concerts, sporting events, etc. because I don’t get around to buying tickets on time.

___ True
___ False

3.   When planning a party, I make the necessary arrangements well in advance.

___ True
___ False

4.   When it is time to get up in the morning, I most often get right out of bed.

___ True
___ False

5.   A letter may sit for days after I write it before mailing it.

___ True
___ False

6.   I generally return phone calls promptly.

___ True
___ False

7.   Even with jobs that only require sitting down and doing them, I find they often don’t get done for days.

___ True
___ False

8.   I usually make decisions as soon as possible.

___ True
___ False

9.   I generally delay before starting on work I have to do.

___ True
___ False

10. When traveling, I usually have to rush to arrive at the airport or station at the appropriate time.

___ True
___ False

11. When preparing to go out, I am seldom caught having to do something at the last minute.

___ True
___ False

12. In preparing for some deadline, I often waste time by doing other things.

___ True
___ False

13. If a bill for a small amount comes,`I pay it right away.

___ True
___ False

14. I usually start doing my homework within a day or two after it is assigned.

___ True
___ False

15. I sometimes have my assignments done before they are due.

___ True
___ False

16. I always seem to end up shopping for birthday or Christmas gifts at the last minute.

___ True
___ False

17. I usually buy even an essential item at the last minute.

___ True
___ False

18. I usually develop a plan to do my homework and get it done when I plan.

___ True
___ False

19. am continually saying, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

___ True
___ False

20. I usually do my homework before I settle down to watch TV or go out with friends.

___ True
___ False

To score the questionnaire, give yourself one point each for  questions, 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12, 16, 17, and 19 that you answered true.
Give yourself one point each for questions 3, 4, 6, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15, 18, and 20 that you answered false.  Total the points.  Here
are the results.

13+ Extreme procrastinator
9 -12 Above average procrastinator
7 – 8 Average procrastinator
Below 7 Your aren’t a procrastinator

Select the category that best describes you.

____ Extreme Procrastinator
____ Above average procrastinator
____ Average Procrastinator
____ Not A Procrastinator 


Let’s work on overcoming procrastination. 

Step 1 – Select a Task.

This should be a small task, something of value.  Here are some suggestions: writing papers, studying, choosing a major, making an appointment with a professor, returning library books, etc.

What is your task?

Enter your task here… __________________________________________

Make sure your goal is specific, measurable,  realistic, and something you really want and need to do.

What is your goal?

Enter your goal here… __________________________________________

Getting confused about the difference between a task and a goal?
Let’s work on that in a little more detail by completing Step 3.

Step 3 – Complete the Task Worksheet

Copy your task from Step 1.
Estimate the time it will take to complete the task.
What is your deadline for completing the task?
What excuses have you used for not getting it done?
What techniques will you use to complete it (baby steps).
What benefits will you receive from completing the task?
How will you reward yourself when you complete the task?
The goal is what will happen when the task is complete.  What is your amended goal.

Cures

  • Getting a bite sized mentality:  When confronted with 150 pages to read or 50 problems to solve, I feel oerwhelmed. However, if I decide to study for 20 minutes or read 30 pages I can do that.  I can endure for that amount of time.  Maybe I’ll even continue on—maybe NOT.  The most significant barrier in procrastination is getting started.
  • Set up a reward-punishment system: If I read for twenty minutes I get to call John – if I don’t I need to do the
    dishes.  These rewards and punishments only matter if I keep faith with myself.
  • Study in a place reserved for study ONLY: Joan always promised herself she’d study in her room after she ate.  However, there were always too many distractions and she rarely studied in her room.  When she went to her favorite place in the library, she was always more successful.
  • Become a groupie: When possible study with a group of dedicated students.  Others can be an inspiration to keep up and learn and support your efforts.

It’s evaluation time!

The deadline you set for completing your goal has arrived.  How did you do?  Grade yourself!

A – I was a smashing success

B – I came very close

C – I got about half way there

D – I made little effort and it shows

F – Ugh, I didn’t even try, let me give it another shot 


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