December 14, 2009
Is that not so true?!
Procrastination has three major affects on homeschoolers. It sucks your precious energy, lessens your credibility in front of friends and family, and is a bad example to your kids.
Motivation can seem like the most elusive element on the planet. From my experience, you can’t motivate someone else; they have to motivate themselves. Likewise, when you struggle with procrastination, no one can actually motivate you to break the cycle. You have to reach inside of yourself and figure out how to stop procrastinating all on your own.
If you are drowning in undone tasks and sighing in despair, don’t give up just yet. You can increase your productivity and maintain better focus throughout the day! Here is a 5-step process that I started using in grad school and still return to when I get overwhelmed today.
Write it Down
I know that you have heard this before… repeatedly. Most of us say I know, I know… and then go right back to not doing it! You need a task-tracking system that encompasses your life as a homeschooling mom.
When you homeschool your kids, you have different segments to your life, different roles that you play. My roles include mom, teacher, household manager, Chair for the Scouts, Co-Leader of our homeschool coop, and of course, Professor Mom. At other times in my life I was a board member, volunteer, manager, etc. You get the picture.
I have created a personal system that keeps my life in order without being a drain on my time. A task-tracking system does not have to be high-tech or complicated. I have a calendar (appointments and ‘hard’ deadlines), a task notebook (broken down according to my roles) and an article keeper (a software program on the computer because that is where I do my writing).
An easy way to start your own system is to break your lists down according to your roles. Keep a notebook with tabs. Each task goes behind the appropriate tab. Mark tasks that can only be done in certain settings with appropriate symbols. For example, any phone call can be labeled with a “P.” When you have time to make phone calls, glance through your lists to see which phone call you could get out of the way. You also have a blend of time-intensive or mundane tasks to choose from, all in one place. This way, you can choose the task based on your energy level, resources and location.
Break the Job Down Into Manageable Chunks
Every job can be broken down into steps. These steps give you the opportunity to set smaller, more digestible goals for yourself. Each and every one of us homeschooling moms has moments when we are completely overwhelmed by the amount of work we have to do. Frankly, I think this is a common trait to every mother, everywhere!
Taking things piece-by-piece will allow you to see progress, which is highly motivating. It also gives you needed stopping points. Stopping points are essential to give your mind and body a break.
Set the Timer
You thought this was only for the kids, didn’t you? A timer is actually a valuable time management tool for busy homeschooling moms. A timer keeps you on task and focused. Just knowing that you have a deadline can be enough of an impetus to keep you going. You may even feel curiously refreshed knowing that when the bell goes off, you get to move on.
I use the timer method when I have something to do that I really don’t feel like doing. For example, I do not enjoy grocery shopping… at all. When I head out to the grocery store, I give myself a set amount of time on the clock. I make it tight so that I have to be speedy to make it out in time. I am so focused on getting what I need that I have less time to think. Crabby thoughts are banished in the race to finish my food quest on time. Juvenile? Maybe. But, it works!
Focus On One Thing at a Time
Any job looks less overwhelming if you focus on only the small chunk you're working on. Make a conscious effort to stop your brain if it starts going elsewhere.
For example, as I am writing this article, my email chime summoned me. I have to admit, I feel a pull to check and see what just came in. However, I know I need to stay focused to finish this article. Otherwise, I will waste a great deal of energy trying to recover the flow of my thoughts.
Keeping focus takes some practice. The more you do it, though, the easier it will get. Just like any habit, focus is similar to a muscle. Working it often makes it grow stronger.
The important part–reward yourself each time you finish one part. You may want to lay down, dive into a favorite book, or go for a walk. Enjoy the feeling of accomplishment. Our lives are so fast-paced, I am determined to take time for little victories. The little victories, more than anything else, are what keep our batteries charged from day to day.
These simple 5 steps to overcoming procrastination will not only keep your homeschool running along smoothly, they will be effective in getting you to improve, stretch, and grow. Try them out on one project and see if you don’t find yourself getting more things done!