By Teachers, For Teachers
Procrastination is something that many in the teaching profession struggle with. In the teaching profession, you have many tasks on your plate, and sometimes when things pile up, it can be easy to just tell yourself that you’ll get to them later. However, when you put off a task for too long, it can weigh on you. The more work that piles up, the more stressed out that you get. Procrastination isn’t something that you can conquer in a day. You can’t just decide to stop procrastinating, and then all of a sudden expect to be able to complete everything that’s on your to-do list. Like anything in life, it takes time. Here are a few tips to help you on your journey of being productive in the teaching profession.
The first step to overcoming being a procrastinator is to identify your weakness. What makes you put off a task? Do you feel too overwhelmed by what needs to be accomplished, or is your mind just on other things? Take a moment to sit down and think about what distracts you. Sometimes when I’m writing an article, I lose my train of thought, and when this happens I pick up my phone and check my social media account. Once I realized that this was my weakness, I had to make sure I put my smartphone somewhere that wasn’t in reach. Make a list of the reasons why you think you could be procrastinating, then try and identify whether the tasks have anything in common or if your mind is just simply elsewhere.
The next step to conquering procrastination is to create a goal for yourself. Productive people tend create both short-term and long-term goals for themselves. This helps them to not only stay on task, but have great time management skills as well. Ask yourself what you’d like to accomplish in a month’s time, a week’s time, and even a day’s time. Maybe you want to plan ahead for after winter or spring break, or maybe you want to be able to read and respond to email quicker. Whatever your goal may be, whether it’s big or small, write it down and schedule it into your planner. As you complete each goal, check it off your list. And when you’re done, reward yourself for your accomplishments.
One thing that all teachers can agree upon is that it’s hard to make time for yourself when you have so many tasks on your to-do list. In fact, a lot of the time when people are procrastinating, they’re unintentionally wasting time on themselves. Many teachers believe they must be proactive every second of the day, so when they’re supposed to be grading papers or planning a lesson and they end up on Instagram, they beat themselves up for it. What you need to do is schedule time for yourself. If you know that every time you go to sit down and grade a paper you reach for your phone, then schedule time before you grade papers to check your email or social media accounts. Creating time for yourself will help you avoid procrastinating, just as long as you pencil it in like all of your other tasks.
Social media has become a downfall for many of us. If your goal was to sit down and grade a math test but you end up reading and responding to online posts, then your brain isn’t doing anything different than you first set out to do. You’re not clearing your mind or giving your brain a break by discussing what your friend did on vacation, what you’re doing is making your brain even more tired. What you need to do when you feel you’re procrastinating is to get up and move. You’ve heard it all before, the best way to give your brain a break is to go take a walk or get outdoors. While many of us know this is beneficial for us, a lot of us still aren’t doing it. The next time you feel tempted to do something other than the task at hand, take a few minutes to get up and move. Whether it’s a quick walk or some yoga poses, take a moment to clear your mind with something other than the Internet.
One of the best things that you can do to help you stop procrastinating is to set a time limit for your tasks. If your goal is to plan a lesson, then set a short time limit of about 20 minutes to accomplish that task. Even though you know you may not complete it, you’re essentially tricking your brain to help you get started. The hardest part of completing a task for a procrastinator is getting started. So, if you tell yourself it won’t take that long, and you go over, it’s OK, because at least you got it started.
If you truly want to overcome procrastination, then you must figure out why you put off tasks in the first place. Once you understand this, then you can create a goal and stick to it. Don’t forget to schedule in time for yourself too. Before you know it, you’ll be the productive teacher you’ve always dreamed you’d be.
Are you a procrastinator in the teaching profession? What strategies do you do to help you overcome putting off tasks? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear what you have to say.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.