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Shayne RiversProcrastination Control: Success Tips For Adult Students

by Shayne Rivers

It was a nightmare that I have repeatedly. I sit at my desk; piles of textbooks with pages marked, sit next to me. On my right is a half
eaten bowl of ice-cream. On my left are the instructions to the class assignment, due tomorrow. I wish for nothing more than to be in my bed, all books closed and study lights dimmed. Instead, the nightmare drags on, often until 1 A.M. when I finally complete the assignment and stumble into the blankets, trying not to wake my husband.

I blame my habit of procrastination on my children, on the dog being sick, or sometimes even on the dirty dishes still piled in the sink. In the end I had to admit that it was fear. It was a deep fear that I was not good enough, that I was not knowledgeable enough, to write the assignments for the class. Once my professor reads my inept thoughts in black and white I’ll be finished. He will know me for the childrearing, house cleaning, dog walking woman I am and will banish me to the back of the classroom. Worse he will know that although I desperately want to succeed and pass every class with an 'A', my studies do come last.

As a psychology major, recognizing the fear for what it truly was enabled me to combat it. I created a list of study tactics that removed my excuses and ended the nightmare. Simple and straightforward, you can use these tactics to keep yourself on track. I know they will help you as much as they helped me.

1. Set aside time. The very first thing that you must do is set a schedule for yourself. If you are taking one class or many, mark the assignment due date on your calendar, then work backwards. Set a date for when you need to have the rough draft completed; then the deadline for your research to be finished. Once these dates are posted in your calendar, stick to them. If you fail to plan you plan to fail.

2. Make a habit of it. What are your daily habits? Is there a time that you can squeeze in 15 or 30 minutes for school work, and only school work, with no interruptions? Schedule it on your calendar. If your children are younger, study before they get up by setting the alarm clock a half hour earlier or set your study time to correspond with their nap time. If your children are school-aged, study time should start after they leave in the morning, before you tackle housework or errands. If you are lucky enough to be an empty nester turn off your phone so you won’t be interrupted by any calls. My husband goes to work 30 minutes early and uses that time to do his course assignments. The office is quiet in the early morning hours and he has relatively few interruptions.

3. Do it now. First thing in the morning check your calendar for what activity you need to accomplish today and then do it. Do not get side tracked by other work. You made the schedule - you complete it. I have found for myself that every semester there is one class that I just don’t want to do. It could be because the subject is new to me or is a subject I just don’t like. I found that I pushed that class to the bottom of my list. I would finish assignments that were due weeks down the road so that I had a good excuse for why I didn’t work on the hated classes assignments due tomorrow! When I stick to my schedule I don’t have any excuses. You made your schedule and you are going to stick to it, no excuses!


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