The year was 2008, I was in my final year of polytechnic education and part of the criteria to graduate, was to complete my Final Year Project (FYP). We were given the opportunity to choose our own topics and a 10 month deadline. I remember choosing the topic with ease. While some of my friends were still struggling and deciding on their topics, I had the full 10 months to complete the project – a 10,000 word report and a 5 minute presentation. I figured I could take it slow, one step at a time and pace the workload out eventually. Besides, there is more than enough time right?
I couldn’t be more wrong…
Time slipped by and I was busy having too much fun with life. 10 months, became 5 and before I knew it, I had received an email reminder to about the deadline of my FYP coming up in a month! I had barely any research done, have yet to write a single word for my report and no where am I near ready for my final presentation. I knew I had to get myself together or the consequences will be detrimental.
What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. I called in favors to help with my research and I managed to gather enough information and complete what my friends took months to do in two weeks. I pulled not 1, but 2 all-nighters, to complete my first 10,000 words draft (and humans are not supposed to pull 2 all-nighters). I got a professor to vet my work before finalizing my report and spent the last week designing my slides and collating my main points for the final presentation. On the date of submission, I got a final look at my work and uploaded right before the submission closed.
1 month down the road, I received a call from my professor. He was so amazed by my project and shared that it was the most thought out presentation and probably the best report he has seen in his teaching career.
Okay, I was kidding. That did not happen. I got a B grade for my FYP and I wanted you to feel like I am probably a genius for a moment. So why did I share this story and what happened that caused me to push back getting work done again and again?
Let my friend, Danny, share a little more about what is procrastination in this video.
Procrastination, according to dictionary.com, refers to the act or habit of procrastinating, or putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention.
One explanation for why all of us are guilty of procrastinating at one point or another in our lives has to do with a behavioral economics term called “time inconsistency”. The concept of time inconsistency can be used to explain why many of us choose to wait till the very last minute to get work done and why some people would pay for a monthly gym membership but almost never ever heading to the gym. It has got to do with how our brain has the tendency to pick instant gratification over delayed gratification. Or to put it simply, to choose the easier way out and what is more fun and less boring for us.
Strategies to Prevent Procrastination
Procrastination can be prevented with this simple strategy.
Cue. Routine. Reward.
Cue basically refers to the time which you will start getting work done. Plan and set time aside so that you can start doing what you need to. You will just need simple daily planner for this. Allocate say 2 hours to doing your homework every day, from 4pm to 6pm. When the clock strikes at 4pm, that is your cue to start on your homework.
Routine is all about using the right strategies that will help you achieve the goals you want. Spend some time to discover the strategies successful people use to achieve their goals. Model after them and make them your routine. One good example is the revision routine that we share during the I Am Gifted! school holiday programmes. It involves casting aside all distractions (including your hand phones), planning what needs to be done in the next 20 minutes, focusing whole-heartedly on completely the task in the allocated time before taking a 5 minute break. You will want to repeat this process at least 4 times for every revision. Now, that’s a good routine.
Reward yourself after you have completed your routine. You deserve it. It can be as simple as going for ice cream after you have completed your daily gym routine, or an hour screen time after you have completed your revision. The possibilities are endless and you decide what makes you happy.
Success breeds success. Get yourself a simple planner or embrace technology and do it on Google calendar. The bottom line is, start somewhere. It is perfectly fine to want to take it slow, just remember, set a cue, do some research to discover the best routine and don’t forget to reward yourself after a job well done.