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Managing procrastination

Most people struggle with procrastination to some degree. It is one of the biggest factors in determining how we do at school as well as in careers and other parts of our lives. Procrastination can also be detrimental to good mental health. The good news is that procrastination is a habit and, like any habit, it can be changed. However, to change you will need to be diligent in taking action and doing the tasks that need to be done when you had planned to do them.

Here are some tips to deal with procrastination:

• Never label yourself as a procrastinator. Giving yourself the procrastinator label just reinforces procrastination. Substitute a message like “I get things done efficiently” or “I always stay on top of things.”
• Get into a routine of studying and doing homework at the same time each day.
• Make a daily to-do list and prioritize the items on the list.
• Always work on your most important tasks first.
• Define clear goals. Make sure your expectations are reasonable.
• If you are feeling overwhelmed, break tasks down into small chunks and work on one chunk at a time.
• If you feel really unmotivated, use the five-minute method. Commit to doing something on the project or studying for five minutes; when the five minutes are up, decide if you are going to continue for another five minutes. (You almost always will because the hard part is getting started!)
• Recognize how you procrastinate (watching TV, talking, phone calls) and use these activities as rewards. Set a study goal and don’t let yourself do other activities until you have completed that goal.
• Be aware of making excuses. Challenge faulty reasoning every time and get right back on task.
• Do not reward yourself for procrastinating. Every time you do another activity such as watching television, visiting with friends or washing your car instead of working on your goal, you are rewarding yourself for procrastinating.
• Get enough rest. Fatigue is one of the biggest contributors to procrastination.
• Recognize self-defeating patterns such as poor time management, indecisiveness, perfectionism and anxiety.
• Take action now! Never put off important tasks until tomorrow, even if it means just doing a small portion of the task.
• See a counsellor. If you need help with this or any other personal or academic concern book an appointment.

Personal counselling is free, confidential and available to all currently registered NAIT students.
Main Campus: Room W-111PB in the HP Centre. Counsellors are available from 8-4:30 with extended hours for apprentices. Book in person or by phoning 780-378-6133.
Souch Campus: Counsellor available Thursdays from 10-4. Book by calling 780-378-6133 or in person in Room Z-153.
Patricia Campus: Counsellor available Tuesdays from 10-4. Book by calling 780-378-6133.

– Margaret Marean, NAIT Student Counselling

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