Have you ever heard, “if you want something done fast, ask a busy person?” Well, there is so much truth to this. Have you ever noticed that once you have some momentum going, getting stuff done, that it is easy to just whip through a few other things on your list? I do! When I am busy, I am amazing, when I am not busy I am glued to Netflix (or some other distraction), lamenting about how much I have to do. Once I get moving, I am always surprised that I procrastinated longer than the task actually took to complete. Seriously, I need to stop that. I have definitely improved over the years with new strategies and self-knowledge 🙂
Procrastination is very normal. Stop beating yourself up about it and just learn more about why you do it and what works for you. Get on with it! It is way worse to be stuck in a procrastination spiderweb than to face any fear that is holding you back.
Mindset + GRIT = Motivation
So enough of all this procrastination. Accept it as a part of life (it does NOT define you), learn what leads you down that rabbit hole and develop a Mindset that makes you a “gritty” person and gets back on track. Let’s start with setting the brain mood and kick your thinker into gear with the “power of yet”. We often procrastinate because we fear that we are not capable of doing the task, or have no idea what to do. The whole purpose of being in school is to learn, so adopt this easy little perspective, “I haven’t learned this yet“. The “yet” part changes the game from “I can’t do this” to “I will learn how to do this”. You can grow! Believe me, I am one of those people who thought that I was lousy at most things until I started to take risks and just try. Yes, some things I was horrible at, but there was always some great learning in every loss and in the many wins.
“Well, great I would love to have a mindset that helped me grow, but I have no idea where to start”, you say.
Well, I say, check out this resource!
“Christopher Wolters and Maryam Hussain performed research on the relationship between grit and self-regulated learning and achievement. Self-regulated learning is the process in which students take an active role in managing different aspects of their own learning. Motivation plays a large role in self-regulated learning because it involves substantial cognitive and metacognitive (thinking about your own thinking patterns) resources. The cognitive resources is the way humans learn through experience and senses”. Source.
Their study found…
- College students who persevered through difficult times, had higher GRIT qualities and were able to self-regulate their learning. This means that they were able to take charge of their own academic experience and work through the discouraging or rough times.
- College Students, who reported being diligent and hardworking, were not very discouraged by setbacks, and found value in their coursework.
- The researchers also discovered that gritty students would be less likely to procrastinate because they were involved in less disruptive and time consuming tasks (Wolters & Hussain, 2014). Students with grit have a long-term goal, and they do not want to stride away from them because it is important.”.
So why am I telling you this?!?
GRIT can be learned. You need to decide that you want to stop being defined by your procrastination. You want to adopt the attitude that you are in a learning process so mistakes are inevitable and valuable. Start saying to yourself that you are in a constant state of “yet” not “can’t”. Learn study management strategies that work best for you and that keep you moving.
Here are some things that work for me:
- I know that the more experience I get with completing tasks only leads to me being more confident that I will get any assigned tasks done. This is so motivational for me. I know that I just need to get started.
- When I struggle with getting started, I pair rewards with what I am avoiding. I let myself watch one episode of a series on Netflix and then see now much work I can get done in the same amount of time after the episode is done. If it is a 30 minute episode, I watch that, finish it and then set a timer for 30 minutes and race to see how much I can get done before I can watch my next episode.
- I always do things in smaller chunks. I know the exact size of chunk that I need because the moment the chunk is to big, my inner 4 year old starts screaming “I don’t feel like working!” (said in super whiney, poor me voice). So, reduce the chuck size and say “I will study for 15 minutes”, “I will just get this small part done now” or “I will just get some/all of my work done now so that I can really enjoy pub night without guilt” 🙂
Yes, growth is uncomfortable, but procrastination hell is way worse for your self-concept. So get out there armed with your “kick butt” mindset, know that you are in a state of learning (how cool is that!) and face those fears of failure. Tell your whiney inner 4 year old that you will feel way better when you are done….so grow up ;-P
Take Dr. Angela Duckworth’s 12-item-grit-scale and see where you are at right now.
We learn and grow each time we challenge ourselves just a little bit. See procrastination as a little communication from your brain whispering to you “pssst…this is a learning opportunity, dig in and see what you can become”.
Today is my birthday so I may procrastinate…just a little…as a gift to me 😉
Join me for the beginning of a Study Management Series!
Dr. Heather Drummond, C.Psych.
Psychologist * Passionate Advocate for Flourishing * Human Muddling Through
Christopher A. Wolters Maryam Hussain (2015) Investigating grit and its relations with college students’ self-regulated learning and academic achievement. Metacognition and Learning, December 2015, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 293–311
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