” I don’t know where to start,” Joe, the master procrastinator in my first period class, sighs. Thus, my day begins.
Actually, it started many days ago when I came up with the idea for this short writing assignment. Students were given a chapter of To Kill A Mockingbird to read, and they would rewrite this part of the story from another character’s point of view. Students were to retell the major points from one of the witnesses in the trial of Tom Robinson.
My first response to Joe is, “Start with the details of the reading selection. Make a list of what you know. Next, ask yourself what thoughts would this character have? Then, free write for five minutes. After the brainstorming, organize your thoughts and ideas. Divide the process into chunks or small steps, ignore the others in the class, focus on your thoughts, take time to review and revise, and you will end with a good final product.”
Alas, if only I could help myself as easily, as I have had trouble writing lately. To help me get started, I researched procrastination. I found that about 20% of us procrastinate and there are over 600 published books on the subject. Of course, I haven’t made the time to read any of them. I just skimmed articles and blogs.
I did learn a few things; my problems are described in any psychology 101 class:
- I am afraid of failing, so I wait and use the excuse, “I would have done a better job, but I did not have enough time.” (Notice, I do not take responsibility on how I managed or mismanaged my time.)
- I do not develop an achievable goal for each day. Instead I say, “ Today, I am going to write a book.” Instead, I should say, “Today I am going to write for 15 minutes. A person can do any task for 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes is plausible, manageable, and doable. I can always write for longer. I need to break the larger goal into smaller goals.
- I don’t pay myself first. Well, I do when it comes to my paycheck. I put money aside for retirement, rainy days, and vacations. However, I do not always place my tasks before the tasks of others. I could use to be a little more selfish, at least for 15 or more minutes a day. One way I can do this is to schedule my time to write and to do it when I most creative, which is in the morning or afternoon. I like to revise my work in the evening.
Wow! I did it. A little research or background knowledge, a little creativity, and a short list! I am back on track!