This blog was an assignment for an online course, which is Learning How to Learn. I omit the references because the content is based on the knowledge I got from this course.
Everyone may have some problem of delaying an important or urgent task because it is unpleasurable, which is called procrastination. For example, a student could procrastinate his/her homework to the last hour before the due time.
This essay discusses one possible reason of procrastination, analysis the insight of procrastination and provides some approaches to avoid procrastination.
When one is facing a task, he/she may encounters an unhappy feeling. It might because it is hard to solve in a short time, or simply difficult to finish. At this time, he/she would unconsciously shift his/her attention and narrow to some easy and enjoyable things. Subsequently, this person will gain a temporary happy, but more pain next time he/she has to face the task again. This is a typical routine of procrastination. One could have noticed that procrastination has a function of addiction. When procrastination gradually becomes more and more habitual, it might impact in many areas of one’s life.
One cause of the painful feeling is thinking too much about the product of a task. On the other hand, focusing on the process allow people participate the tasks in a relaxed way. The product is the final outcome of the task, which could be breakdown into small jobs. Even each of these jobs is easy to finish, the sum of them could be intimidating. Additionally, one, who is focusing on the product, has to question his/herself about the progress, which could be somehow frustrated. However, another way to manage a task is to do one piece of the task in a flow of time. In this way, a task could be accomplished by achieving many small milestones. Each time a job is done, the habit of overcoming procrastination is solidified more.
To procrastinate or to avoid it could be a habit. A habit has four aspects: the cue, the routine, the reward and the believe. For a procrastinator, the cue could be a message form social network, for instance; the routine is the shifting of attention; the reward is the temporary happy feeling; the believe is simply “I can not do it now”. For a person who is trying to avoid procrastination, the cue could be a place or time which he/she is likely to focus on the jobs; the routine could start with a plan; the reward could be anything make he/she happy after achieving a milestone; and the believe is “I can do it”.
One of the techniques to avoid procrastination is planning. A long term plan covers most important things in a long period of time, such as a week or a month. A short term plan lists things to do in a single day or even several hours. Setting up a quitting time is significant important for a short term plan because it clarifies when the jobs should be done and implies a nice reward. In both planning method, it is suggested that the most difficult task should be done as early as possible, because the rest of the jobs are always easier.