Project Management: How to Keep Procrastination at Bay

As we saw last week, having a system to manage our time is very important.  But if you often find yourself putting off tasks, you likely will not see the benefits.  Consistent procrastination can make situations more stressful than they need to be, and that ultimately can affect your ability to learn and recall class materials.  However, the following steps can make completing assignments and other tasks more manageable. 

Preview.  The first step of project management is to preview your assignment.  You will scan your syllabus or assignment directions to get an idea of what you need to do.  It is important to preview instructions as soon as you get them.  This will allow you to ask for clarification if you don’t understand something, as well as allow yourself enough time to complete the work.

Plan.  Once you have a good understanding of the assignment, you should break the assignment into logical and manageable goals.  While you can do this mentally, it can also be helpful to write a list.  Read through your list and prioritize the order in which goals need to be completed.  This visual representation will help keep you on track and make the assignment seem less overwhelming. 

Schedule.  This is where you should decide about how long each task will take and enter it into your scheduling system.  Having a set time to complete the tasks will minimize your tendency to procrastinate.  Try your best to be realistic about your timeline- it’s better to schedule too much time to complete a task than not enough.

Follow-Through.  Once you have done the previous steps, it is time to actually complete your tasks.  Follow your schedule as closely as possible.  It is important to give yourself time and space conducive to work.  If you’re still having trouble holding yourself accountable, schedule work times with classmates or tutors.

Rewards.  You should be proud of working hard to complete each step.  Many times, completing each step will make you feel more confident about your skills and interested in the assignment.  But at times it is hard to feel motivated.  If that’s the case, give yourself small rewards for completing different steps.  This could be scheduling time to do something you really enjoy in your free-time, making a phone call to a close friend, or buying yourself a small reward.

Flexibility.  While it is important to try to stick to your plan, sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you anticipated.  If you have given it an honest effort, you might need to make some changes with your plan or scheduling to better meet your needs.

Time and project management are essential components to success in the post-secondary setting.  Join us next time to learn more about other organizational skills that can help you achieve in your learning environment.