by Lisa Niedenthal, Beta Phi (Indiana U), International Vice President
Anyone who has worked with me, either in a volunteer or professional capacity, knows that I am by nature a procrastinator. I’m not proud of this but have learned to manage it. At the start of any project or new position I declare that I will “never miss a deadline but will never be early.”
August combines the end of vacation season with the beginning of a new school year. It’s a fresh start for everyone, not just those on an academic calendar. This can be a metaphorical landmine for procrastinators like myself. How do we savor these final, precious days of summer and still prepare for success in September? I have a few basic recommendations that are easy to remember, since they spell the word “ACT.”
A is for Analyze
Take a few minutes to think about the project, problem, or task at hand. What is the desired end result? How much real work time will it entail? What specific steps must be taken to complete it? What resources do you have that might be helpful? The more information you have prior to embarking on the work, the more efficient you can be and the easier it will be to actually start (and starting is the procrastinator’s biggest barrier). One way bakers and chefs do their best work is to have all the ingredients measured and ready beforehand. It’s the same concept with projects. Start when you have everything you need at your fingertips.
C is for Collaborate
To whom can you go for help? Is this a team or individual effort? Collaboration can be in the form of delegated work or background information and experience that will assist you in achieving success. Sometimes it’s not necessary to “reinvent the wheel” but rather to update, adapt, or conform existing work product. If this is the case, always give appropriate attribution and appreciation to the authors of the original work.
T is for Timeliness
Pick a deadline and stick to it. Make sure you schedule time on your calendar to work on the project. Commit yourself to do a specific amount of work before you take a break. Reward yourself in a small way once you have completed a work session. As they say, it’s like eating an elephant – one bite at a time.
August should be a time of relaxation and rejuvenation but it can also be a time to prepare for the ACTive days of September. With a little preparation and discipline, you can do it all.