My teenage daughter had a book report due last week. She selected the book the first week of school and was so excited to read it. The book has over 800 pages. I raised my eyebrows when she first told me because although she enjoys reading she is not a voracious reader. For her that is a lot of pages; to be honest, for me that would be a lot of pages as well!
The first week she picked it up every night for about 20 minutes and then lost interest in the book. That book was carted around with her to school and moved around the house on a regular basis; however, she procrastinated on picking it up and keep up with the reading.
Fast forward to the book report being due and she was now scrambling to complete over 500 pages in just a few days. Burning the midnight oil for several nights; she did end up completing this morning but missed her book report deadline by 2 days. She is not happy with herself.
How often do we all do this to ourselves?
We have a project; whether it is a work assignment or our own project at home. We start with enthusiasm and then it dies off. We keep meaning to complete it; but we allow other life events to take precedence. With a deadline looming; we put ourselves in overdrive to complete and swear we will never do that again to ourselves. We will then find ourselves on another project a bit later and the cycle repeats.
So how do you break the cycle?
Breaking down the project into small chunks with a date to complete each is a good first step. It is nice to celebrate each little success. If you find yourself getting behind as a completion date rolls around. You make the commitment then to catch up. That can assist in heading off an enormous amount of work at crunch time. It also helps if you can schedule in a project free day to give yourself rest.
For my daughter, I had suggested for next book report she should take the number of pages divided by the number of weeks to complete the assignment and then she would know how many pages she needs to read each week. If she falls behind on her weekly number of pages, she knows on the weekend she needs to play catch-up.
Celebrating each little success can be as simple as a 'WhooHooo!' upon completion to indulging yourself in a favorite pampering activity. Celebrating keeps up the enthusiasm because you KNOW you are making progress on completion.
Before you know it, your project will be done and the midnight oil remains in the cupboard.