• Dr. Mario

A Procrastination Prescription—It’s All About Timing

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Whether you’re an online student, a college professor, a frontline worker, or a CEO, you’ve probably had to deal with procrastination. It’s a sneaky thing that gets the best of all of us from time to time. Still, no matter how many times we fight off the procrastination monster, it always seems to come back!

When I set out to complete a task, I can find myself distracted at every point along the way. For example, when it’s time for me to write a blog post, I usually start with some online research. Ten minutes later, I find myself with an Amazon cart full of stuff I don’t need! This is the procrastination monster 👾 taking control of my concentration—and my wallet! So, how do we get out of this cycle of having the best intentions to get our work done but getting sidetracked?

In this post, I’m going to show you how to recognize the signs of procrastination and teach you a simple motivation technique to get your online classes done! 🙌

Is this normal, or am I procrastinating?

The first thing I want online students to know about procrastinating is that it’s not the end of the world. We all do it. It’s a part of the human experience, so don’t be too hard on yourself. But the most critical step to overcoming procrastination is recognizing the signs.

Procrastination can appear in different forms depending on the person. For some, it’s engaging in tasks that we feel are equally as important as the task we need to complete. For others, it’s more straightforward and obvious, like hanging out or sleeping too late when you know you have an assignment that's due by the end of the day. In each case, there are signs ⚠️ to recognize so you can work through procrastination.

Since each online learner is unique, it’s crucial to pay attention to subtle cues and hints that indicate procrastination is at work. The best way to recognize some of these subtle thoughts and behaviors is to ask yourself the following question. How is the activity I’m engaging in right now, helping me complete the assignment or task coming due? If you can’t come up with an immediate answer that’s positively associated with the work you need to complete, you are off task! Stop, drop, and roll! It’s time to reset. 😲

Zero out the clock and reboot!

Okay, so you just had a major epiphany and realized that you are not doing anything to help you get your online coursework done. So, now what? Pause for a minute and assess what’s happening. The first thing I want you to do is to return to the scene of the crime. Cycle through these questions.

*How did you get so far off track? What happened?

*What was the contributing event that made you turn left when you should have kept going forward?

*How much time did you lose?

Once you have a few ideas, take a deep breath, and show yourself a little kindness and compassion. Veering off the path is a universal experience, and you can still turn things around. So, let’s get to work! 😃

The next thing you need to think about is what needs to get done. At this point, I want you to get very specific. It can’t be as general as “I need to write this stupid paper.” You need to identify a particular set of subtasks, like “I need to locate three primary sources for my topic” or “I have to create my outline, so I can work on the research.” Once you get specific about what tasks you need to complete, you can structure how you want to get the work done.

Now, before I talk about how you will organize your workflow, I want to remind you of an urgent matter that I discussed in the previous blog on procrastination: RESISTANCE! You must scan your mental landscape to locate any resistance that you’re holding onto regarding the work you have to complete. If you have just a single ounce of resistance in your brain, you will have difficulty eliminating procrastination. To learn more about how resistance shows up in online learning, read my post Resistance KILLS online learning, delaying an on-time graduation.

After you’ve dealt with resistance, you’re ready to plan out how to attack the task that needs to be accomplished. Let’s dive into a technique that helps you put the procrastination monster in its place. ✔️

Structure—The key to getting online coursework done

To combat procrastination, I want to offer you an easy technique that helps you focus your attention so you can log on, log off, and get your online coursework done. The method is loosely based on the Pomodoro Technique. My approach is designed to help you break work down into smaller chunks so you can be more strategic about organizing and completing tasks. To TAME YOUR BRAIN 🧠, I’m going to show you how to apply the Pomodoro Technique's general framework.

Here’s how you make the technique fit your specific needs.

1. Determine the specific task you want to complete. For example, maybe you just want to create an outline for a discussion post. Focus your attention on that particular task and nothing more.

2. Identify the amount of time you need to complete the task you identified. The Pomodoro Technique recommends setting a timer for 25 minutes. However, you may know it only takes you 15 minutes to create the outline. So, adjust the time here based on the specific task you wish to complete. Setting more time aside then what’s necessary, might lead to getting off task or invite procrastination. We definitely don’t want that to happen. 🙅

3. Work on the task. Focus your attention solely on the task in front of you. For our outline example, don’t worry about writing or researching. Just work on outlining the structure of your discussion response. Pro tip: Use the assignment directions as a guide for which topics to include in your outline. Look for keywords in the assignment directions, like describe, explain, and compare and contrast, to help you figure out what’s most important to address.

4. Assess your progress. After the timer goes off, I recommend taking a short break—no more than five minutes. When you return, assess your progress. Determine if you completed the task effectively. If not, repeat the task with a new goal in mind. If you completed the task to your liking, move on to the next task, like locating primary resources for your assignment.

Applying these techniques will trick your brain into being laser-focused. You won’t have to worry about being overwhelmed because you’ll have one specific task to focus your attention on. Using this TAME YOUR BRAIN 🧠 technique will allow you to break a task like writing a discussion post or completing another written assignment into easily digestible pieces.

Once you get into the rhythm 🎶 of applying this strategy, you’ll be amazed how quickly you’re able to get your online coursework done. Spending less time on your online coursework means you’ll have more time to spend with your loved ones or binge-watching your favorite shows on Netflix.

Final thoughts

I want you to try this technique and tell me how it works. Feel free to tweak it and make it your own. My hope is that you’ll discover your groove to understand what works best for you and your unique circumstances. Maybe you work best in 10-minute increments, or perhaps you need to build in time to let your brain wander, so 30-minute work sessions work better for you. Embrace the journey and explore. 🤗 There are no wrong ways to customize the strategy. Once you have your technique down pat, let me know what you came up with!

What’s next?

Are you nervous about taking online classes this term? Suppose you’re on pins and needles about taking all your courses online this term. In that case, you need to attend my FREE webinar, 📺 How to Get Your Online Classes Done, Without Hating It! During the webinar, I’m going to teach you my methods for managing the online learning process to get your work done and graduate on time.

I’ve taught these TAME YOUR BRAIN 🧠 techniques to many of my students over the years. They were able to develop personalized approaches to meeting the demands of online learning. You won’t find my techniques anywhere else because I created them for busy students just like you.

I can’t wait to teach you how to kick your procrastination monster to the curb to finish your online classes and graduate on time! 🎓 Click on the link below to save your seat for the next webinar.

Register here:

That’s all for now. I’ll see you next time during my Office Hours!

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