Going back to college as adult learners and student moms/ dads required plenty of extra skills. One of the most important skills you need to manage is Time Management. In order to manage your time and get the most out of it, the one thing to overcome is procrastination. Read my guide to find out how to stop procrastinating as an adult learner to help you study better
Honestly, if there was anything that I could change about my awesome experience of studying abroad and going back to school as an adult learner and a student mom, it would be my procrastination.
There were moments when I felt completely overwhelmed and stressed out. Between my studies and taking care of my family, alone in a foreign country, I admitted I spread myself too thin and bitten more than I can chew.
But now, in retrospect, I realized there was plenty of unnecessary chaos which I could easily avoid if I didn’t procrastinate. I wish I knew better then, but unfortunately, overcoming procrastination was not an easy task.
So, how to stop procrastinating and get your things done? Let’s find out!!
As adult learners/students mom and dad, we can’t afford procrastination. With many responsibilities, once we procrastinate on doing something, other tasks are going to pile up.
The best approach to tackle this will be like ripping out the bandage. Just get it over with, take a deep breath and do it. Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done, with exams and assignments deadlines approaching.
On top of that, work and family affairs could be as demanding. It is easy to become highly unmotivated and overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work that you have to finish. It will not be surprising at all if you just don’t know where to start and ended up not doing anything.
To keep from suffering and having to frantically try to finish everything in the last minutes, here are some ways on how you can prevent procrastination.
1. Find Out WHY You’re Procrastinating
According to this article from Business Insider, there are four types of procrastinators. They are:
- The performer who says, “I work well under pressure” and wait until the 11th hour to start working on their tasks
- The self-deprecatory who says, “I am so lazy right now”, that when they don’t do something they are extra hard on themselves.
- The overbooker who says, “I’m so busy” who places the blame on having other important things to do.
- The novelty seeker who says, “I just had the best idea!”, keeps coming up with new projects but never finishes them.
Which type are you? If you are “The Performer”, start doing your task immediately. If you are “The novelty seeker”, stop chasing shiny objects and focus on the tasks you have in front of you.
Once you identified which type of procrastinators are you, ideally, you will be able to break out of your holding patterns and start to get your work done.
2. Write Down Your Tasks/Assignments
In this article, “Helen Macpherson, Ph.D., of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University said “When we write by hand, we have to coordinate verbal and fine movement systems,”
Therefore, you would be more likely to retain information once you have written them down with your hand. Write down your tasks, assignments, and everything that’s due; papers to write, books and articles to read, tests to take, your child’s doctor appointments, school recitals, and all.
Get everything out of your brain, put them all in your writing. When you are done, re-read them again. Try to remember more, just in case you miss out on anything. When you have doubts, ask your classmates or your spouse to see your list and to check if you missed something.
3. Prioritize, Get the Hard Ones Done First.
The next step to stop procrastination is to start doing the tasks you have written down. Tackle the ones with the closest deadlines, and the hardest to finish first.
Chances are, you are procrastinating because you dread having to do those certain tasks. You are worried about the amount of time, energy, and effort you need to put in to finish those particular tasks.
Thus, you keep postponing them, telling yourself you are not ready yet or still have to prepare some other things before you could start working on them.
That’s ok, most people will start with the smallest or easiest task. By completing the smallest task first, you can physically cross it off your list and allow yourself to breathe a sigh of relief. After all, it is one less thing to do and to worry about.
But unfortunately, being an adult learner /student mom and dad, everything can be totally different. We have so many things to juggle at once, and so many responsibilities to handle. Something might come up and derail our plan.
That’s why I strongly suggest you tackle the hardest tasks with the closest deadlines first. Therefore, if something urgent came up and you have to do some unexpected things, you could still catch up with your work and stay on schedule, since you’ve done the hardest ones.
Besides, it will be easier to try to divide your focus and attention to finish several smaller things, than to do one big and difficult task that required undivided focus and massive effort to finish.
Doing the biggest and the hardest task first will also give you the advantage of being able to tackle them under your best circumstances. Thus, you have a better chance to give your best performance.
4. Set a Deadline for Each of Your Tasks
Another way to avoid procrastination is to set a deadline for each of your tasks. List down all your tasks – exams, papers et cetera- and their due date, make a schedule, and set a deadline for yourself, ahead of the actual deadlines.
It will help you stay on top of what to do, what to finish, what to study for, and so on. Most importantly, you will know what’s due and when. It will help you use your time wisely.
By setting deadlines ahead of the actual deadline, you will give yourself room for improvement, since you have spare time to examine your work before its due.
But bear in mind, don’t let this backfire on you by making you slack off, knowing that you actually still have time before the real deadlines.
See the deadlines you set for yourself as the actual deadline, and that time gap is a time slot you allocate just in case something unexpected comes up in other aspects of your hectic life. If everything goes well, you will have extra time to relax.
5. Focus on Your Goals
What are your goals? Do you want to finally take the leap, go back to school, and enroll? Do you want to finish your study on time and doesn’t have to add an extra semester? Do you want to publish your book?
Whatever your goals are, focus on them and start to work on them backward. The end goals can be achieved through focus and dedication. Picture them in your mind, hold them closely in your heart.
Turn them into the motivation that gives you the strength and courage to get things done. Once in a while, you would fail but get up as soon as you can. Whenever you feel like procrastinating, just look ahead and see how close you are to the finish line. Lift yourself up and beat the procrastination by knowing that if you don’t stop, you’ll be one step closer to your goals.
6. Delegate Whenever You Can
When we are a mother, a wife, an employee, and a student, all at the same time, things can be overwhelming. It does sound difficult to believe, like, why would anyone want to put themselves in that situation anyway? But the truth is, it’s more common than you think.
It happened to me once, during some period of my life when I was a mother, wife, employee, and student at the same time, and I believe there are millions of other women out there who juggled many roles and responsibilities at once.
One of the reasons is that sometimes we try to be everything and be everywhere at once. We have so many things to do and become too overwhelmed, not focus on doing the things that need to be done, or avoid the task and do nothing at all since we don’t even know where to start.
The solution: delegate your tasks. Trust more, have a little more faith in others, and accept that things will not be going to be perfect.
Make your partner help you out more with the housework. Let your children do things themselves, according to their age.
Accept that most likely their work will not up to your standards. Resist the urge to take over. Appreciate their effort by praising them, or simply by not complaining of how things could be a whole lot better if you are the one who’s doing it.
If you are an adult student/ student mom and dad, trust your classmates more during the group project. Let them know your input and concern, but don’t try to control everything and push your ideas or your way of thinking and doing things.
When you trust your classmates to do their work, it shows them that you respect them. That they are just as competent as you are, despite being a lot younger.
You will also show them that you are not one to mess around with. Because sometimes, there will always be some opportunist who can see that you have a problem with delegating tasks and thus, they will happily let you take control and do all the work so that they don’t have to do anything.
At work, delegate tasks to your subordinate. Give them chance to prove themselves and show what they are capable of. Most likely you choose them to be in your team, you know why you choose them in the first place, let them help you out. Delegate the tasks so that you can focus on bigger things to do.
Use this printable workbook to record your Back to School Research. Don’t make all that Campus Visits, Virtual Tours, Webinars, and Q&A with the school’s admission personnel go to waste !! Write down the information you have collected in this workbook.
Study them later carefully to help you weigh in the pros and cons of each university and decide the best place for you to continue your study.
7. Accept Imperfections
In the end, you just need to accept that things will not always be perfect. That you can’t wait until you have endless research to finally start writing your paper.
That you don’t need to wait until you understood all the technical stuff and master social media to finally start your blog. Or even as simple as you don’t need to wait until you run out of milk before doing grocery shopping.
Just do it, I’m not saying you don’t need to prepare anything before you dive into your tasks. If you need to do or buy something first, to do some research, make comparisons and so on, by all means, do them first before you start doing your tasks.
But soon after, finish your tasks immediately. Don’t give yourself an excuse to procrastinate. The longer you prolong what you are obliged to do, the harder you need to push yourself to finally start and get things done.
OVER TO YOU…!!!
For some people, procrastinating is a way of delaying finally getting any dreaded task done. They keep postponing doing the tasks, keeping themselves busy doing other things, try to convince themselves that they are doing something productive while ignoring the elephant in the room, the dreaded big task that awaits them to finish.
I was definitely guilty of spending time sorting my emails when I clearly had papers to write. I convinced myself that by checking my emails, I wouldn’t miss something important (like an announcement from my professor that the paper’s due date is extended? HAH yeah I wished…)
The bottom line is, as an adult student/student mom, and dad, procrastination is something we need to avoid in order to thrive at college. The more we procrastinate, the more things will pile up, and the harder it becomes to stay on schedule or to catch things up.
Identify what type of procrastinators are you. What is the main reason why you keep procrastinating, then decide the best way to stop!! whatever works best for you.
As a start, you need to write down your tasks/assignments and prioritize which one you want to tackle first. Set deadlines for each of your tasks with your end goals in mind. Delegate whenever you can and accept that things will not always be perfect.
One important thing to notice, if you are a habitual procrastinator (just like me…), PLEASE BE GENTLE to yourself. Take one step out of time as you are highly unlikely to change drastically.
Keep moving forward. Turn the pressure and time constraints to work to your advantage, instead of holding you down.
Shift your anxiety about finishing an assignment into positive energy and pour them into your work. In no time, you will procrastinate less and less.
That’s it for now…Finally, I beat my procrastination to write this post. I hope these tips will be useful for you as they are for me…If you feel like procrastinating and don’t want to read them now, please pin them for later and share them on social media for the procrastinator in your life to read…Thanks before, till next time and see you soon!!