Procrastination

Teagen Densmore, TMMBA Student

Procrastination.

The sound of the word makes me cringe, it’s the monkey on my back that I don’t seem able to shake.

I’m a sufferer of procrastination…sometimes. Starting large and complicated projects/assignments/tasks with due dates attached is a personal puzzle.

Luckily, I like solving puzzles. Solving this particular puzzle is a goal I had in sight when I started the TMMBA program back in January because grad school involves lots of big projects with big, hairy due dates. Grad school also involves a lot of work. All nighters are not fun if you have to get up and go to work and school the next day…and the next day.

And to top it off, team members are counting on you.

Despite trying several different solutions to my procrastination puzzle, I have yet to hit upon one that works for me. Like any good puzzler, I’ve been learning and refining my strategy with each attempt–getting closer and closer to a solution that works.

I think my current solution (”Procrasti-Can 3.0?) might be gold, so I wanted to share it with you all.

Here, I’ll lay out what I’ve decided are the important clues that led me to this solution:

Clue 1:

No due date? No problem. I’ll happily chip away at the project in small chunks or all-nighters. On my own time, I love doing projects and I’m a very hard worker. In fact, I often have several personal projects (well, I did before grad school) going at one time. Aversion to work is not an issue (unless it’s Sunday morning, then I’m sleeping in).

Clue 2:
Big projects with due dates appear differently to me than big projects without due dates. Big projects with due dates feel like giant, inscalable walls, too big and complicated to approach in one bound. “You’ve got to be kidding me” is a phrase that comes to mind. Not exactly inspiring…not what you want to have running through your head mid-quarter when you have, like, five million big projects due.

Clue 3:
Many of you are probably thinking “Duh, just slice up the big, scary projects into smaller pieces”–the classic recipe for procrastinator success.

You are right and I’ve certainly tried it, but it still hasn’t worked for me. The mantra “I’ll just do a little bit now” was still too…ambiguous/unknown/unquantifiable, just like the giant project. It’s the only way, but my application was still off.

Solution:
So, what’s the secret ingredient that would make the classic recipe work for me? Structure.

Here’s my recipe for success:

    Procrasti-Can 3.0: “15 minutes a day
    Everyday for each class, spend:
    *15 minutes on reading
    *15 minutes on the next small assignment that’s due
    *15 minutes on the next big assignment (i.e. project/paper/test) that’s due

This plan uses the classic “smaller pieces” solution, but also adds structure that limits the small pieces–thus preventing the pieces from morphing into big scary procrastinator nightmares.

Certainly, this is nothing new. I’m sure there is a whole shelf of books at Barnes and Noble on exactly what I’ve laid out here.

Why am I figuring this out now? Over the years, I’ve learned that many people can offer solutions to a problem, but you have to really understand the issue at hand before you can effectively choose and apply the right solution.