I’ve spoken at length about procrastination in previous posts however I had a recent conversation with a student who got me thinking about a new aspect of procrastination and how to conquer it. My student started out with a B- average and went to an A- average in a single semester based on what I’m going to share with you today.
But first a little history…
Historically I had always attacked procrastination the way most people do. I’d keep telling myself to ‘get shit done’ and when I didn’t get said shit done I would wonder why I wasn’t capable of getting said shit done. This followed me for years and years. I’ve also spoken to hundreds of students about this particular issue. I’ve also found a solution that works for me and most of my students but it’s more complex than you think. You see ‘and this will be difficult for quite a few of you’ I’m going to share with you a cold hard truth that very few students realize but nonetheless is central to your overall productivity and long term success.
As the head tutor for the virtual teaching assistant method I do an initial phone conversation with each of my students so I know which tutor to match them to and to answer any questions they have before beginning the program. I had a young student who had been battling procrastination. He asked me why he was constantly procrastinating on papers and studying and losing focus in lectures and readings. He had also told me that he had already tried all the stereotypical anti procrastination techniques like creating to do lists (which he didn’t follow), a semester plan (which he never followed) and keeping a daily planner (he had one but he used it four times during the entire semester). He said that he could never stay committed to any of these reminders and asked me what he was missing.
The Basis Of Procrastination
I sat there, going over what he had just told me and realized that he didn’t miss a thing. He was doing EVERYTHING RIGHT and none of what he was doing was resulting in winning marks. If you’re reading this then you’ve probably achieved at least a 6th grade reading level and you’re probably a high school or college student who is trying to figure out how to banish distraction just like my student. You’re probably thinking that I have some kind of secret kernel of knowledge that I’m about to share with you that will automatically make you a focused and therefore successful student. Fortunately I do have a solution to overcoming procrastination; unfortunately it’s not what you think. You see the reality is that my student could become a ‘focused’ student and banish distraction by completely changing his mindset, personality and upbringing by reprogramming his mind to get his work done on time and I do offer those tools through my book but to be honest with you the insights I provide in 30 mins a day to a 4.0 gpa aren’t much different than any other study book when it comes to procrastination. The reality is that (and this will be hard for you) IF YOU ARE LAZY YOU WILL MOST LIKELY ALWAYS BE LAZY
Sorry, it’s true.
If you’re lazy now chances are you’ll be lazy for the rest of your life without a lot of due diligence or self reflexive work to change your mindset. But don’t worry I’m lazy as well and my student and we’ve both become amazingly successful based on this amazing and kind of weird insight.
Overcoming Procrastination Is a Team Sport
Lazy people need other people to keep them accountable, whether its friends, family, study buddies, roommates or trained professionals like those at the virtual teaching assistant method. The fastest and easiest way to success is getting somebody else to keep you accountable. To prove this to you I’m going to tell you exactly what I did with my student and the results.
My student started out with a B- average which to be honest with you isn’t that bad considering he was at a very competitive college and an even more competitive field. He saw some massive improvement after we implemented the following changes.
- My student bought 2 hours a tutoring per month
- He gave me his syllabi and I created auto responders for him 4 days before each test/exam/paper and gave him further auto responders 3, 2 and 1 day before each exam or paper.
- I got him to recreate the same auto responder sequence on a 4 semester white board which I got him to hang up in his study space. I also programmed google calendar with those same due dates which he could download to his ipod.
- I got him to submit his papers and exam study notes 3 days before it was due to his virtual teaching assistant. If it wasn’t submitted in time, his VTA gave him a call and started yelling at him.
He went from a B- to an A- average in a single semester. He had all his assignments, papers, exams and tests finished or prepared for 2 days before the due dates and he ended up with a whole lot less stress at the end of the day. Even if you don’t hire one of us remember that changing yourself is difficult, making sure others keep you accountable to those changes are a lot easier. Overcoming procrastination isn’t easy, make sure you have someone with you to keep yourself accountable.