Procrastination and perfectionism
Timewasters are activities or ‘things that just happen’ which impede us every day. They prevent us from making the right decisions, and hinder our progress in completing tasks that are important to us. They are different from leisure activities because we do not really enjoy them: while indulging in time wasters we are often bugged by the feeling that we really should be doing something else.
- Try to identify some of your personal time wasters and think of when you usually indulge in them
- Which of these time wasters can you eliminate without causing too much distress to yourself (and maybe others around you)?
Procrastination is thinking that there will be a better time to do a certain task or that you should wait until you are in a better mood to do something.
- It means letting low priority activities take precedence over high priority tasks
- You may put off starting or finishing because you want to be perfect (perfectionism)
- You may not see the relevance of the assignment
- You may be unsure how to begin writing an assignment
- Break your assignment into small, manageable tasks. This will allow you to use small sections of time instead of waiting for complete days, which may not eventuate.
- Set realistic timeframes with flexibility to deal with life crises.
- Start studying at the same time most days / nights.
- Focus on one thing at a time and convince yourself that there is no better time than now. Use the D.I.N. rule (”do it now“).
- Reward yourself after small tasks. This will help retain motivation.
- Look at the purpose of what you are doing and remind yourself of the end goal as a way of seeing the relevance of your study to your life.
- If you are unsettled, tell yourself you will work for just 15 minutes (the hardest part is to begin).
- Challenge any temptation to put a task aside because you don't think you are doing it well enough.
See also procrastination on CROW (Counselling Resources on the Web).
Perfectionism refers to a set of self-defeating thoughts and behaviours aimed at reaching excessively high and unrealistic goals. Perfectionism is often mistakenly seen in our society as desirable or even necessary for success.
However, perfectionist attitudes actually interfere with success. The desire to be perfect can both rob you of a sense of personal satisfaction and cause you to fail to achieve as much as people who have more realistic strivings.
Perfectionism frequently leads to procrastination because students often fear finishing (or even starting) an assignment. They fear that it will not be good enough and, instead of trying to gradually build up their skills and work towards success, they set goals that are too high to achieve.
- Remember that nothing can ever be perfect: it is impossible to produce something that takes into account every angle / argument / perspective, since everyone brings to an assignment their own perspective.
- Value the process, not just the outcome.
- If you break goals into smaller ones, it is easier to get an on-going sense of achievement.
- Put your efforts into those things that will gain the most return: writing.
- See mistakes as opportunities to learn.