Yep. That’s what I’m asking.
Are you one of those who likes to act immediately or one of those who kicks that proverbial can down the road?
I know. It can be SO difficult to get yourself in the frame of mind to just get on with things. Ugh! There is always something more fun and appealing to do. Checking Facebook and other social media, catching up on your favourite TV programmes, or even (from my past personal experience) putting the bins out multiple times a day in the futile hope of putting off the inevitable!
There will always be plausible excuses as to why you couldn’t possible do something now if you can rationalise it in your head. And for the short-term, maybe a few hours or days, you can feel justified in your (lack of!) action. But a continuation of this just leads to stress and that constant nagging at the back of your mind.
Take for example, a dissertation you have to write for your degree, say around 15,000 words. You are given almost a year to complete and submit it. You feel great, after all that’s AGES away. But you can’t motivate yourself to start. It’s just not a priority right now. You have to keep on top of your different modules, reading and being prepared for tutorials. So you concentrate on that. That nagging voice (if it’s even started yet!) is barely a whisper, so you happily ignore it.
It is the end of the first term and the holidays begin. You know you should take advantage of the holidays to start your research, but the holidays are for celebrations and the opportunity to relax as much as possible before the next term begins.
You start your second term and you have to keep on top of your modules in order to pass your exams in the following term with flying colours. The nagging is more insistent, yet you discard starting your dissertation in the second holiday period and it gets pushed back for a further few months.
Then the dreaded exam period begins. Weeks of hell are about to start! It would be insane to commence your dissertation now when you should be concentrating all of your efforts on acing your exams.
Finally. Exams are over. Phew!! You reward yourself with a few weeks off of anything academic related. Chillax. Then…
It strikes you like lightning from a clear blue sky… You’ve only a month left to complete your dissertation in the summer holidays! Some people have already finished theirs, submitted them and are going on their travels. You, on the other hand, don’t even have time to feel envious and have gone into panic mode. That nagging voice is now screaming at you! Your summer holidays are virtually ruined and it’s all your own fault. You can’t possibly think of booking a holiday or doing anything remotely fun. You are rushing around, trying to get reliable sources to put together a plan to start writing. The days are speeding up and there’s just not enough time in the day. You are reduced to pulling multiple all-nighters and your brain feels too tired and fuzzy to think straight. You know the work you are producing is of a much lower quality than you are capable of producing. By submission day you have yet to finish and are bleary and teary-eyed, wondering how everything has gone so disastrously wrong when you had all of that time, and praying that by some miracle the roads are clear and the transport is running super-efficiently so you don’t miss the deadline.
Tick, tock goes the clock…
You have made yourself very ill with lack of sleep and food, and are wandering around in a trance-like state like a zombie!
And it wasn’t worth the aggravation.
There are some people can thrive under pressure. It doesn’t faze them and so they can perform really well doing things at the last minute. I find that sometimes pressure can make you very creative and cause you to produce your best work. Some of my best work has been produced under intense pressure. But is it worth doing it all the time if you can help it?
After all, what if something went wrong last minute? What if you had an emergency which prevented you from completing something that realistically could have been done ages ago? Lack of planning and time-management will hardly score you any sympathy votes.
So what can you do instead?
Well, you can do your most dreaded and inconvenient tasks first and get it out of the way. That way, the rest of the day is yours and you feel more relaxed as a result. Congratulations! For longer tasks, plan for it over a period of days or weeks, again working on it early in the day. Pace your race! Aim to complete your tasks days (or even weeks if you are really good!) before the deadline, even if you give it in on the submission date.
It does work. It may be a tough slog at first, but the results and peace of mind gained is extremely rewarding!
So go on – make immediate action a habit not a hindrance!