Whether you’re the one procrastinating in your homeschool or your child is, it’s frustrating! You want to get things done, but day after day, you feel like you’ve failed. I know the feeling. But there’s help for us procrastinators.
First look for the source of procrastination. When you think about the task or project that you’ve been procrastinating, what thoughts come to mind? If your child is the one procrastinating, ask him what he thinks about when the dreaded task is mentioned. Do you think of the task as dull? Does it seem like it will take way too much time? Perhaps you think you’re not good at it? Related to that, perhaps you aren’t sure what to do. Are you afraid of the consequences of completing the chore? Could it be that you don’t need to do it anymore?
Second address the cause of procrastination if possible. If the procrastinated task seems dull to you, determine how you can make it fun. Could tackling the project with a friend make it fun? My daughter tends to avoid cleaning her room unless I’m in the room with her. Once a bunch of us helped a friend clean her house. We all had fun.
What about simply adding music to do the work? For years, I had a chores playlist for my kids with favorite upbeat tunes on it. It helped all of us get chores done.
Could you turn the task into a contest of some sort? I inadvertently benefitted from this approach when my son was procrastinating on doing his algebra. When he learned that his private school friends were ahead of him in math, he got motivated. If your children are procrastinating on cleaning their rooms, offer a prize to the child who gets her room cleaned first! I use quarterly rewards to motivate my kids to finish their independent school work. Consider posting your progress to social media. The encouragement from other people can help you accomplish a dull task.
If the task seems too time-consuming, look for ways to make it more efficient. One of the things that I have frequently procrastinated on is filing. It’s dull and time-consuming. Using a more efficient filing system has allowed me to tackle my filing more frequently. I use large, open color-coded hanging folders – no labeling required. If you aren’t sure how to do something in less time, Google it! Someone else has no doubt had the same question.
If your child feels he isn’t good at something he has been procrastinating, consider changing curriculum. The curriculum you use should help your child feel successful. A simple change to Learn Math Fast for my youngest child made all the difference. If your child is still struggling, spend some time tutoring and encouraging your child. If your child is procrastinating in language arts, be sure to listen to that episode of the Homeschool Sanity show.
If you don’t know what to do on a particular project, make that your first task: learn the steps you need to take to complete the project. Google or ask someone with experience how you should do it.
If fear is involved, consider asking a friend or family member for support. Perhaps you have put off seeing a doctor because you’re afraid of what you will hear. Or you just hate going. Having someone with you for support can make all the difference. If you’re fearful of what a professional like a dentist might tell you, be sure to let that caregiver know. If you’re fearful, spend time in prayer and meditating on Scriptures having to do with fear and worry.
If you’re fearful and that’s why you’re procrastinating, one of the best ways to deal with it is to get the task over with. It’s silly, but I hate to return things. So I put it off. I’m honestly afraid that I will make the clerk taking my return angry or suspicious of me. I know it’s ridiculous. But a few weeks ago, I just decided to get all of my returns over with. What a relief to have it done! I joked with one cashier to ease my tension and another did appear to be suspicious of me. The truth is that attitude wasn’t nearly as awful as I had imagined.
If you’ve decided you just don’t want to do something or don’t need to do something, then drop the task from your list altogether. Let it go! Admit to yourself that you’re not going to do it. I’ve had to do that with scrapbooking projects. I asked my friend who scrapbooks to come over and go through my supplies and projects. She empowered me to declare that I wasn’t going to do some projects. I was able to sell the materials. If I decide I want to do the project in the future, it won’t be the worst thing in the world to repurchase it. This is a great truth to apply to homeschool curriculum. I have bought curriculum a second time because I had sold it and I survived.
If you’re procrastinating something that does need to be done, delegate it. I knew I would never sell my unused scrapbooking materials. My friend was happy to do it to make the extra cash. If something needs to be done, but you don’t want to do it, ask someone else in your family to do it or pay someone to do it. The relief you will experience in letting these tasks go is worth the price. The bonus is you can teach someone else a new skill or help them make extra money.
The third step in addressing procrastination is to use tricks. After you’ve determined the source of your procrastination and you’ve addressed the cause of your procrastination if possible, take some action on the project you’ve been procrastinating. It can be the smallest step: file one piece of paper, put one item in a box to give away, tell your friend you’re terrified of going to the dentist. If you can’t think of one small step to take, set a timer for five minutes. Work on the task or project for that time and know you can quit when you’re done if you would like to. One year, I cleaned my basement storage room (something I’d been procrastinating) five minutes at a time.
Another powerful trick for overcoming procrastination is accountability. It certainly works with my homeschoolers. When they know their classmates will be doing the work or they have another teacher who will be reviewing their work, they get busy. You can create accountability by promising someone that you will finish the project on a deadline. Announce the deadline publicly. The more concerned you are with others’ opinion, the more powerful accountability will be for you.
Finally, review your reasons for doing the task in the first place. Picture yourself in detail having it done. How do you feel? When I did this when I was procrastinating writing the second volume of Grammar Galaxy, I found myself so motivated that I began writing at night–a time that I don’t usually have energy to write.
Don’t allow yourself or your kids to say, “I’ll do it later” without first considering the truth that you won’t have more time later. Doing routine tasks in the moment saves time. I encourage you to watch this Do It Now video. Your kids will like it too.
What are you waiting for? Do it now.