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Ask Dr. Lynch: Avoiding Procrastination

EducationWorld Q&A columnist Dr. Matthew Lynch is an associate professor of education at Langston University. Dr. Lynch provides expert advice on everything from classroom management to differentiated instruction. Read all of his columns here, and be sure to submit your own question.

Dr. Matthew Lynch

This week, reader Brian L. asks:

I have been a 10th-grade algebra teacher for 15 years, and many people in my district consider me to be a master teacher. Personally, however, I feel as though my tendency to procrastinate is the disposition that stops me from internalizing the praise and accolades. What can I do to alleviate my tendency to procrastinate?


Brian, thanks for the question. You should be proud of your accomplishments, as the title of master teacher is not ascribed to just anyone. With that being said, let's get right to it. Procrastination works as a virus that slowly engulfs you. It can have devastating effects on your growth and career. Putting off any task that you have to accomplish is a habit that can actually make you lose a lot of time.

When you put off a task, you are leaving something incomplete. The feeling that you have not successfully completed something can nag you subconsciously. This can become a feeling that does not allow you to concentrate completely on the task at hand. While this phenomenon may not be obvious, procrastination does lead to bad time management.

As the work piles up, stress levels also increase. So whether it is calling a parent and discussing a difficult child, writing the narratives on the report card, or a long-term project like planning a school event, it is a good idea to take the bull by the horns and begin the work. Here are some tips that can help you:

Make a list of all the tasks that you have been postponing for some time. Try and identify whether these tasks have something in common. Doing this will help you determine the specific kind of jobs that you tend to postpone. Is it that you postpone tasks that have no deadline, or those that involve doing something with which you are uncomfortable?

Keep a list of all the tasks that you need to do and prioritize them. Tell yourself that jumping the priority list is not allowed.

Finally, reward yourself when you complete each task. Take a break and sip a hot, refreshing cappuccino before you start the next thing. Take a walk, or simply pause to look out the window. Rewards, both big and small, can help you stay motivated and focused.

The biggest hurdle in tackling procrastination is identifying the root cause of the procrastination. Once you have identified the cause, you will be able to address the issue directly and consciously. I hope this helps.


About Dr. Lynch

Dr. Matthew Lynch is a Chair and Associate Professor of Education at Langston University and a blogger for the Huffington Post. Dr. Lynch also is the author of the newly released book It’s Time for a Change: School Reform for the Next Decade and A Guide to Effective School Leadership Theories. Please visit his Web site for more information.

If you have a question for “Ask Dr. Lynch,” submit it here. Topics can be anything education-related, from classroom management to differentiated instruction.

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