Why we procrastinate

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.


Reflective Essay about a Learning Challenge

This blog was an assignment of an online course, which is Learning How to Learn.

Assignment 1: "Reflective Essay about a Learning Challenge"
This assignment will ultimately be about 1 page long--there are five parts:
Briefly describe your current learning career and trajectory (College sophomore aiming for a degree in language?  High school student unsure of you future major but enjoying math and physics? Retired, In your mid-sixties and exploring the idea of learning something completely new?).
Briefly describe the learning aim that is of importance to you (it may be passing a particular class, excelling in a particular degree program, or something outside school, such as mastering culinary expertise.
Describe your biggest mental challenges in achieving your learning aim.
Outline existing research or learning techniques that are relevant to your challenges.
Propose how you will apply knowledge of research findings or learning techniques to help you overcome your challenges.

I am now an international student studying electrical and electronics engineering in The University of Adelaide, in the middle of the third year of a 4-year bachelor program. As I had been granted 2 years transfer credits, I directly started the program with the third year courses. So one may have been aware that I just finish my first semester here.

Obviously, as a student I should pass all the courses in the future study to obtain the degree. By saying “pass”, I mean passing each course with a grade better than “Pass”, which requires a mark not less than 65 out of 100.

At the right beginning of last semester, I had realized that the content of the courses were quite harder than I expected. Admittedly, there is a big gap between my previous education and work experience and the granted transfer credits, which means I am not totally prepared for the third year.

Additionally, because English is not my native language, I could not follow the lectures all the time, be afraid of asking questions, and consume more time on reading and writing than local students. These problems caused the study even more difficult.

Pomodoro - When I realized that I need more time for study, I soon found the Pomodoro technique. It helps people to be more effective to work and manage time.

Project management - Yet pomodoro is not good at managing time in a long term, I studied about project management. It provides some techniques of time management (and it is related to engineering). The most important ones for me are work-break-down (WBD) and Gantt Chart.

Pomodoro - It helps me to be used to the state of being focus, by ignoring the interruptions. Tuning off the notifications on my smartphone is easy to set and it does help. So now I could concentrate on studying easily. Moreover, sometimes I think 25 minutes is too short for a period of concentration and I do not want the 5-minute break to break my working, so I would change the rule from 25+5 to 50+10. I hope this change would not harm the effects of the technique.

WBD - A common cause of procrastination and bad time management is that a big job is hard to be executed. So a big job should be broken down to small tasks, until a task is fit to a 25-minute pomodoro. Then my pomodoros become more clear with aims. Similarly, a huge project should be WBD to jobs, then to small tasks. By doing this, I am not afraid of starting a huge assignment.

Gantt Chart - I reorganized my courses to projects and WBD them, so that I could apply Gantt Chart to manage my progress. I use a software which is simple but perfectly designed for this technique. What I need to do is to input the tasks, set up Gantt Chart network, reflect the progress of tasks, monitor the progress and, most importantly, make sure everything is done in time.


How I improved my learning during PEP

Reading plays a significant role in PEP study, because some assignments require good reading skills, such as IRW, Referencing Essay and Independent Research paper. To complete each of these assignments before due date, I should read a group of academic articles with efficient reading and note taking skills. I only used to underline or circle keywords to assist my reading, but in these assignments I started to use highlighters. Meanwhile I tried to take notes for readings in better ways, which include critical reading, evaluation of the article and cross-referencing. I also tried to use mind map softwares to facilitate the note taking, however they would devour more time for learning them, so I gave it up. Facilitated by these skills, I found it more easier to achieve these reading related assignments.

Additionally, we have more works after class such as case study, oral presentations. They also need lots of time. I should arrange time for reading, researching, writing as well as rehearsal for OP. So excellent time management skills are definitely required. To improve my time management, I learnt pomodoro technique. According to this system, I divided my assignments or other homeworks to smaller tasks, and allocated tasks into each “pomodoro time”, which is 25 min work-time plus 5 min break. The allocation become the log for everyday’s work so that I could evaluate my efficiency at the end of each day. These evaluation help me to realise the problems of wasting time and the potential ways to improve my time management.

Over all, I improved my English reading skills and time management skills during PEP. I hope I could keep the progress in further study in university.


My Reflection on a Discussion about Academic Writing

I answered a survey about academic writing in 22nd May, 2014. For there is not a similar concept in China, I did it according to my understanding about academic writing in Australia. I found it really hard to answer the survey if it is based on Chinese style, because it seems that all the options are not applicable.

We discussed in group in the next day and compared academic writing in Australian culture, Chinese culture and Korean culture with each other. Only few elements are the same, for example, “connecting ideas”. Korea share more elements with Australia than China. However, some elements such as “critical thinking” could only be found in Australia. The reasons for these differences is absolutely related to the culture and history in each country. For instance, in China, academia is a relative new concept for its people comparing with its long history. We has been struggling to accomplish the goal of 9-year compulsory education since 1911. The education system in China is too busy to make clear about how to educate a person, but have to educate hundreds of million young people. Even most of the lecturers in Chinese universities do not understand academic culture and its importance.

I have been practising some skills of academic writing for nearly five weeks in the PEP program. Now I know that I should give a clear main topic in the introduction part, which contains background of the topic, my position and the scope of this essay. And then, I should discuss an idea once a body paragraph, with some supporting ideas and evidence. Finally, I should write a conclusion to repeat the main topic in another way. The most difficulty is picking out a topic, especially in the referencing essay. Maybe it is because in my own education experience I was seldom asked to develop my own ideas.


How I study English for the first days in Australia

Australia is an English-speaking country, so it is full of opportunities for studying English as long as I want, and I do.

I started to practise my English as soon as I landed at Adelaide Airport. I talked confidently with an airport staff even though he was messing up and checking all my baggage. At the beginning of my Aussie life, I had to deal with something to settle down, for example starting a bank account. I walked into the bank with awareness that it is always a good way to practise my speaking and listening with someone who serves me. I live in a homestay now. The landlady and her family like to chat with me, which also helps a lot for improving my English. Of course, campus is a much better environment to practise English.
However on campus people use academic English, which would be easier than social English for me to understand because I am more familiar with academic vocabulary than social vocabulary. The accent was also a problem in the first days, but I overcame it soon. Speaking speed is another one stop me to understand. If an Aussie is talking with me too fast, I will not follow him; and it is hard for me to speak as fast as local people. This problem is somehow awkward.

I keep learning new words for better understanding of daily and academic conversation, assisted by a website. Some of them come from conversation and some of them come from observing. For each day, the website provides a plan of learning new words and reviewing familiar ones. The plan sums 100 words per day. Moreover I could check the statistics easily to know how many words I have learnt for a period of time. Additionally, I spend at least half an hour per day on chatting with the landlady. One day, when we were talking about something pretty funny and laughed aloud together, I realized maybe I had made a progress.

BTW, I would like to share that helpful website but I do not post any advertising in the blog. So if you need the URL, please comment with your email address. I will email you later.
















不飞 不跳

不温 不凉

只增 不减

又酸 又甜

养颜 减肥
藏秘 排油