post written by: Marc Chernoff
A Sad, Familiar Tale of Procrastination
He has always dreamed of pursuing a career in computer hardware engineering. “I want to design my own chipset”, he used to tell his Computer Science teacher in high school. Now, as a junior enrolled at a reputable technical college, he finally has the chance to make his dream a reality. Although he somewhat slacked his way through the two years of general education courses, he always knew he would have to be studious during his junior year when the core engineering classes started.
He wakes up every morning filled with excitement and positive intentions. Studying is actually the first thing that crosses his mind. “I’ve got to get that chapter read”, he tells himself. But first he needs to grab some Starbucks and a muffin. “Okay, now I’m ready.”
He sits down at his dorm room desk and cracks open the book “Modern Computer Hardware Design”. The phone rings. It’s Jane, a good friend he met in his sophomore English class. “Lunch, today? Yeah, I could do that. How’s noon sound? Perfect. See you then.” Before he sits back down to read he remembers that he skipped his workout yesterday. “A quick workout will only take 45 minutes and it will energize my mind and prepare me for a couple hours of diligent studying”, he thinks to himself. He puts on his sneakers, grabs his iPod and heads over to the campus gym.
When he returns from the gym, he takes a shower and is again ready to start reading. Page one: “Welcome to the exciting world of computer hardware design. This book is divided into…” “Ah, crap! I forgot to email my mother those photos I promised her. Heck, it will only take a second.” He quickly opens up his laptop and logs into Gmail. Before he has time to send the email he gets an IM from an old high school buddy, Greg, who he hasn’t spoken to in six months. After a forty-five minute chat session, he fires the email off to his mother and returns to the book.
He glances up at the wall clock and realizes he only has about thirty minutes before he has to leave to meet Jane for lunch. “Jeez, it will be pointless to get into the groove of a focused study session for just thirty measly minutes”, he thinks out loud. He convinces himself that it would be in his best interest to save the reading for after lunch. So logs into Facebook, replies to a few messages from his friends and then heads off to meet Jane.
Once he returns from lunch an hour and a half later, he feels exhausted. The post-meal grogginess is kicking in hard. “All I need is another round of Starbucks and I’ll be ready”, he thinks to himself. He heads out to grab it.
As he sits back down at his desk with his coffee he repeats the word “focus” over and over as a mantra to himself. He cracks the book back open. Page one: “Welcome to the exciting world of computer hardware design. This book is divided into…” But then… His neighbor knocks on his door. “Turn on the Local 6 news channel. The college apartment complex down the street is on fire”, his neighbor says. Again, he puts down the book and then clicks on the television. This should only take a second…
Procrastination is a deadly, cyclical virus.
Stop Procrastination 101
- Plan, Prioritize and Dedicate Time – Make a bulleted list of the things you need to accomplish, denote the next action you need to take for each bullet point, prioritize based on due dates, and dedicate a window of time for getting each bullet point done. Once you have your plan setup, do NOT deviate from it unless a real emergency occurs.
- Disconnect Yourself – Go to the library or another quiet location where nobody can disrupt and distract you. Leave your cell phone and internet connection behind.
- Start Early, Finish Early – The gym, along with everything else you’d rather be doing, must wait. Get the important tasks done first thing in the morning when your mind is fresh. Once the weight is lifted, the rest of the day is yours.