Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Allure of Last-Minute Success

When you work a hard day, it will feel natural to want time to relax, unwind, or recharge.  We want to play and while fun is not wrong most people devote way too much time to fun.  Television, video games, Facebook, and texting, are classic time wasters. We are good at time wasting when we have something we don’t want to do staring us in the face.  
I have watched my younger son play with thread rather than do his writing exercises.  When we have work hanging over us, any diversion becomes even more fun.  Many successful people talk about doing the most important things first, then rewarding ourselves with things that are more fun.  This is habit three of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
It is important to realize that we are making choices in our use of time.  It is a good idea to take a week and log what you have been doing with your time.  Just get a sense of what you do.  This will allow you to budget time realistically.   You probably will not like doing this because it shines a light on what you do and you may feel ashamed.  Please push through this feeling and do the exercise.  This is the same issue people face when they try to create a budget.  
With time, there needs to be a schedule or things will not get done.  If you go off of feeling, you won’t get things done.  I am a very organized person at work when it comes to my time, but I struggle to keep track of things going on at home because at work I only have to keep track of what I need to do while at home I have to accommodate my wife and children’s needs in addition to mine. 
It is important to realize that there is a behavioral element to our usage of time.  We tend to procrastinate on those long-term important things, because we don’t feel the pressure of time.  Feeling is an unreliable guide when setting your schedule.  Most of you have experienced that rush of productivity and creativity that accompanies trying to get something done in the last minute.  Unfortunately the problem is that it works sometimes.  
If you got burned from procrastinating, hopefully you learned your lesson.  I’ve interviewed a number of high level students and asked them to tell me the advice they would give themselves if they could go back a few years, and more often than not they tell themselves to not procrastinate on homework.  You know this, but for those of who didn’t learn your lesson about the pitfalls of procrastinating, please realize that you will probably not get too far in your college career if you keep procrastinating.  
So much of what is done in college is long term work such as reading, studying for tests, researching, and writing.  These cannot be done at the last minute with any degree of success.  This is why some of the most brilliant students struggle, because the system that was utilized in past does not work for them now.  The more time you can devote to long-term things the better you will be doing in many areas of your life.  This concept is progressive, the longer the view of your perspective, the more purposeful the activity of your life (2 Cor 4:18).