22 November 2010

End of Semester

I'm finishing my English credit requirements this semester which means that I have three final research papers and a unit plan to write - oyyy.  I'm the first to admit that I'm not always the most on-top-of-it person; I usually let the big things go until I have to do them, but I don't necessarily see this as the most appropriate way to function.  I had every intention of getting my papers under way in advance this semester, but surprise - it didn't happen.  So I have two and a half weeks until the first of my assignments is due and I'm still on page two (of 20!).  Not great - certainly nothing to celebrate - but it's a start.  Now the question is: how to make myself focus?  How to make myself bang out this paper before I have 24 hours left?

My favorite homework trick is setting a timer - usually just for 30 minutes - and making myself work straight through.  Texts, tweets, emails, phone calls?  Ignored.  I'll deal with it in 30 minutes!  If something crucial pops into my head (and this is obviously when my brain finds everything important), I'll write it down to take care of afterward.  After my 30 minutes are up, I usually take a short break and then re-focus.  I like using this most for reading assignments; no matter how boring something is, I can give it at least 30 minutes.

I recently started reading Leo Babauta's ebook "focus" at the recommendation of a blog friend and I have to say that while it might not be groundbreaking, it certainly is interesting!  Most of Leo's ideas seem to be like that - he's not reinventing the wheel, but he's saying something important, something that most of us seem to have forgotten.  I'd love to be able to give up email like Leo has, but that probably isn't realistic for me right now (if only my professors were on Twitter..!), so I'm using some of his other tips to help me focus on creating - in this case, creating critical analysis and lesson plans. :-?

What about you - are you a last-minute procrastinator or an on-schedule to-do list maker?  How do you keep yourself accountable for your work?  And what are your best focus and motivation tips?


  1. I used to be the worst procrastinator in the world, but this past summer (and probably a few years of maturing along the way) helped me realize the importance of being organized and planning (certain) things. I have become the queen of to-do lists and planners, etc.

    Keeping myself accountable? Well, mostly I just make sure to reward myself in some way when I accomplish something. The bigger the accomplishment, the bigger the reward. But that doesn't mean I'm going all out when I accomplish something. It could be as simple as letting myself buy a bag of cookies that I want, not buying myself a $200 skirt or something.

  2. Oooh, I love your 30-minute timer idea. I am so, so, soooo COMPULSIVE about checking my e-stuff. It's ridiculous. And don't even think that means I actually respond or anything. I just need. to. know. what is going on.

    30 minutes!!

  3. I used to be Queen Procrastinator of the World - especially in undergrad - and it's kind of sad that I've only RECENTLY gotten better hah. I like your reward system!! Motivation :)