Procrastination Nation: Get a Deadline

First things first: Accept that there will never come that magical time when you ‘feel’ ready to do a task.

So, if you are a serial procrastinator like me, and you’re finally ready to face that fact, how do you proceed? Well, strangely enough, just as I was sitting down to write this entry, this article showed up in my Facebook feed. (And, yes, I was using Facebook as a way of avoiding writing.)

According to this article, I need deadlines. And not just any deadlines: external deadlines.

This is not news to me. I depended on deadlines to motivate all the way through high school, college, and graduate school. I was often stressed, but not enough to change my ways. And since my grades didn’t particularly suffer, I kept up this strategy. But once I finished my coursework for my doctorate, I realized that this was not going to be the best way to write my dissertation. There was a deadline, but it was six years in the future. And if I didn’t want this book-sized project hanging over my head for five of those years, I was going to have to come up with a different approach.

I set schedules. I gave myself blocks of time. But the dissertation wasn’t going anywhere. Then one of my classmates emailed that she was pregnant and was determined to finish her degree before the baby came. That set me to thinking. No, I didn’t decide to have a baby, but I did set an external goal. I told my advisor I needed to finish my degree before summer came. Once I made that pronouncement, she gave me a schedule. And I kept to it.

So if you a chronic procrastinator as I am, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to make sure that you are on a deadline.

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