No one can dillydally like the Jolly Librarian. If a task needs to be completed, I suddenly find the need to research the history of Iceland, learn how to play the maracas, or even clean out the fridge. It’s not a pretty sight, and procrastination has caused me a great deal of stress over the years.
Still, since I’ve been able to earn several college degrees and hold down a job, obviously, I am able to battle and beat my demon on occasion. So here are some things that have worked for me:
- I had to realize there was no magical time in the future when I would feel like writing my dissertation or updating my resume. Taking away that excuse made me face up to the fact that I wasn’t doing myself any good by delaying.
- Set deadlines. Since I have a tendency to break my own deadlines, I make sure I have some external accountability. I told my dissertation advisor that I needed to graduate in August. I promised our SACS chair that I would report every Friday on our progress. I might be a slacker, but I don’t want other people to think I’m one.
- Outline the project. I kept putting off starting my dissertation, substituting more books and articles for any actual writing.One day, I realized that I couldn’t start writing because I didn’t know how a dissertation was really supposed to be organized. So I looked up a few online and then I outlined my own. Once I had a structure, I felt more comfortable and was able to start to work.
- Do a little bit everyday. There’s a slogan that says, no matter how slow you go, you’re beating everyone still on the couch. Even if I just write a paragraph or practice the piano for fifteen minutes, it’s a start. And often once I get started, I keep going.
- Get a buddy. I have to admit I’m something of a loner. But many of my friends have found having a group or buddy to commit to works for them. Join a study group. Meet a friend after work at the gym.
I’ve come to realize that battling procrastination is just something that I’ll always have to do. But luckily, I’ve also realized there are ways to work around it.