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Procrastination Control: Success Tips For Adult Students
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4. Be flexible. If you get behind, Do NOT, I repeat, Do NOT, throw the whole schedule out the window. Readjust your study plans and get yourself back on track. Everyone fails. It is those people who pick themselves up and get back to work that succeed.

5. Be accountable. If there are other adults in the house let them know this is your study time. Tell someone what your goals are so that you will be held accountable. Even better, tell your teenage son or daughter when your homework is due. “Mom, is your homework done yet?” That will get any parent motivated!!

6. Be Prepared. I admit that I eat during my study time. Set up what you need before you get started. If you know that you work better with snacks or even a glass of water, get it first. Of course, don’t forget the necessities, textbooks, papers, pens. Gather everything that you will need first. You waste valuable time getting up and down looking for items that could have been collected together. Once you sit down to work you should have no reason to get up until the job is done.

7. Pace yourself. Get yourself a timer, one with a loud ticking noise, and set it next to you. This will help to remind you that your time is precious. Hearing the ticking will keep your mind focused and on task. Set it for how ever long you have to get the job done and don’t stop until it rings.

8. Reward yourself. When you were a child at school your teacher would give you stickers and stars for getting a good grade. You would get your name written on the board to be let out early for lunch for helping her in class. Though these are small rewards they work. Put a big star on your calendar or syllabus when you have completed your work. WARNING: never reward yourself with a day off from your school work schedule. This is a slippery slope and will lead you to a long night at your computer.

9. Be a friend. Finding or creating a study group can also be helpful for keeping you on track. Peer review is a great source of help and advice on fine tuning your work. A word of caution: remember the importance of association. If you want A’s, study with others who not only want A’s but are willing to do the work to get an A.

10. Stay motivated. What motivates you? Why do you want to do this? You could be camped out on the couch watching CSI, but instead you have taken a huge step and enrolled yourself back in school. What dream is this going to accomplish for you? Find a picture that helps you think of that dream and tape it where you will see it everyday. I place one on my fridge and a second picture next to my computer. When I am struggling to stay focused I take a moment and I look at my pictures, letting my mind daydream. If I can imagine myself there, I can get there and I will start now.

11. Believe in yourself. Affirmations have been proven to work for everything from quitting smoking to having better self esteem. Listen to the affirmations that you are giving yourself everyday. Do you say, “I can’t do that,” “I’ve never been good at that subject,” “It’s too hard”? If this is what you hear, you are feeding your brain with very bad junk food. Recognize and acknowledge your negative thoughts and then turn them into positive thoughts. Here are some of mine to get you going. See what you can come up with on your own.

Negative thought: “What was I thinking when I decided to take this math class?”
Replace with: “I have two teenagers, math doesn’t scare me.”

Negative thought: “I’m too old to learn new things.”
Replace with: “If the professor, who is younger than my youngest child, can teach this class, I can pass it.”

As a wife, mother, business owner and adult student I have been asked how I do it all. I happily admit that these tips have been my saving grace. I hope that they help you in your quest for higher knowledge and greater experiences. It is a difficult but worthwhile road.

Shayne Rivers is a freelance writer, mother of two and a Ph.D. student living in Northern California.

See also Win the War Against Procrastination.

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