Hello, my name is Abigail and I am a procrastinator. I put off things, important things. Homework, job applications, doing the dishes, you name it, I’ve put off doing it. It’s not healthy, but procrastination has gotten me this far. In the words of a friend of mine: “If it didn’t work, I wouldn’t keep doing it.” Time’s pressure motivates me to finish my homework. I am not an extreme procrastinator, I don’t leave myself half-an-hour to write an eight-page paper, but I do put off starting until the week the paper is due.
My sister tells me I should always eat a frog first thing in the morning. She means I should do the project I hate the most first, then everything else will be easy. I have too many frogs. There is the looming end-of-semester-project frog, the ticking-deadline frog, the ugly frog, the boring frog. I spend days deciding which frog is worst. All that deciding is hard work. I need a Netflix break.
The frog I finally eat is always the soonest-due frog. Then it starts all over again. I waste all the time when I’m not eating frogs by stress-cleaning, binge-watching, eating, and definitely not doing anything productive. Then I am depressed because I was so busy not working on my project, I didn’t get anything useful done.
May I propose another idea? Instead of doing the soonest due thing first, start with the homework you want to get done. Instead of spending all day putting off the project that you hate by distracting yourself do a little of the nicer work. Fit in some of the activities you enjoy: walking, playing an instrument, reading, writing. Prioritize your tasks not necessarily by deadline, but by how you value them. Instead of working on projects in the order in which they are due, prioritize them by how much you value getting them done.
For example: A quiz is due today. Instead of doing the quiz first, I do some of the multitude of Friday projects or start on the long course-culminating-experience paper. I know I will get the quiz done sooner or later today, therefore it is not my priority. During the day, I work on the multitude of projects I want to get done. By not doing the quiz immediately, I refuse to let my brain check out when today’s work is done.
We all have different study habits, different priorities for each day. The key to productive procrastination is to use the time putting off the big frog to get a bunch of little frogs out of the way.