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University Counseling Center

Time Management and Procrastination

Time Management

Time can be thought of as an endless series of decisions that gradually change the shape of our life. Inappropriate decisions can produce frustration, lowered self-esteem, and stress. The following are characteristic of inefficient time management.

  • Rushing.
  • Chronic vacillation between unpleasant alternatives.
  • Fatigue or listlessness with many slack periods of nonproductive activity.
  • Constantly missed deadlines.
  • Insufficient time for rest, leisure, and personal relationships.
  • The sense of being overwhelmed by demands and details and having to do what you don’t want to do most of the time.

Interventions that can be helpful in developing more efficient time management include the following:

  • You can establish priorities that highlight your most important goals and that allow you to base your decisions on what is important and what is critical.
  • You can create time by realistic scheduling and delaying low priority tasks.
  • You can learn how to make basic decisions.
    • Decision-making occurs when there is more than one course of action available.
    • Decision-making can be learned, applied, and evaluated.
    • A first step in learning decision-making involves identifying your values.
    • Decision-making differs from problem-solving in that the implication of “rightness” is absent whereas in problem-solving there is an implication of a “best” solution.

Procrastination

This word brings to the surface different images for each of us. If you are among the gifted that are not severely afflicted, you may picture yourself lying under a tree, contentedly drinking a lemonade instead of mowing the lawn. However, if procrastination has been a problem for you, the images are probably not quite so pleasant: a desk so cluttered that you can hardly see it beneath the debris; pulling all- nighters to get ready for a test; a research paper that is even now waiting to be done; etc.

“Procrastination does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, sex, or ethnic origin” according to Burka and Yuen, authors of PROCRASTINATION: WHY YOU DO IT; WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT.

Procrastination can be defined as “the behavior of postponing”. How troublesome procrastination is to you determines the severity of the problem. For example, external consequences may range from paying a library fine for an overdue book to failing a course. Internal consequences can range from mild irritation to rather strong self-condemnation. So why do you procrastinate and what can you do about it? To learn more, read on.

Reasons for Procrastination

  • To avoid an assignment you cannot do thoroughly or perfectly.
  • Difficulty focusing on a task.
  • Magical “payoff” in being able to wait until the very last minute and be able to “pull it off”.
  • To avoid something that provokes feelings of incompetence or powerlessness.
  • Need to be in the “right mood” to get work done.
  • “I’ll save time and effort if I wait and get it done all at once”.
  • “I know I can get this done at the last minute, because this approach has worked for me before”.

Help for the Procrastinator

  • Learn to manage time efficiently.
  • Determine the time of day you are most effective.
  • Rely on your “feelings” or emotions to make appropriate choices, and learn to anticipate consequences.
  • Set up a reward system for yourself.
  • Modify tasks so they are more appropriate to your skills.
  • Set up artificial deadlines for yourself.

Seek assistance through the Counseling Center should it prove to be too difficult to change behaviors on your own.