Just Do It!
By Laura I. Maniglia
Procrastination plagues many people. For children and teens, this habit can translate into poor performance in school and regular confrontation at home. What strategies can they use to overcome this problem? The simple answer mimics the athletic slogan, “Just do it!” This is the initial article in a series designed to help make the new year a pleasant and productive one for all involved.
Students need to obtain the tools to combat this impediment to success. Learning methods and putting them into place at an early age may take some time and practice but can offer life-long rewards. Of course, adults can modify these suggestions to suit their own lives as well.
Foremost, be sure to have the basic materials at hand. In the case of homework, these include writing implements, notebooks, folders, paper, textbooks or handouts, and an organizer. The organizer can range from an assignment book to a memo pad or a PDA. The essentials will vary depending upon the student’s age and subject matter. The materials should be laid out on an uncluttered work surface. The location is also important. Parents should avoid distraction during homework time. So determine if the child is more productive in a quiet room or in a less isolated area where she can see or hear other family members. No television, radio, computer, or other device should be on during the time. Once the materials and location are set, establish a consistent homework time. After a ride home on the school bus, students may need a brief break including a healthy snack and beverage. However, that time should be restricted to no more than half an hour.
Do the worst first! After refreshment, the student should feel capable of attacking his least favorite assignment first. A book called The Procrastinating Child offers some mnemonics that will be easy for children, teens, and adults to apply. STING is the first one:
Select a task. The student should choose the homework assignment he MOST avoids.
Time yourself. The time can range up to forty-five minutes per assignment.
Ignore everything else. No distractions or other tasks should obstruct the work.
No breaks allowed. The student should not take phone calls, e-mail, or any other distraction.
Give yourself a reward! Now is the time to take a break, move around, or do something he enjoys. The satisfaction of accomplishing the “worst first” will make the remainder of the homework easier. In the case of middle and high school students, this process should continue until they complete all of the assignments.
Next in the series: How to make miserable tasks less distasteful