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Overcoming procrastination: Goal setting, time management

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Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. --

Imagining you are elderly and have lived a full life, think back on your accomplishments and write them down. Now, imagine instead you only have six months to live. What would be your goals? Did they change?

This exercise was used by Jacklyn Urmey, 514th Air Mobility Wing director of psychological health here, to give a new perspective during her “Goal Setting & Time Management” class July 15, 2018.

“Separating goals into long-term, mid-term and short-term buckets can help make the goals more manageable and help determine appropriate timelines for each goal,” said Urmey. 

While separating goals and developing a task list may seem daunting, for most, it is a fairly simple part of the process. 

“No matter how big or small the goal may seem, setting the goal itself can be fairly easy,” said Urmey. “Developing a plan to achieve it and following through on that plan are the difficult parts.”

During the class, Urmey outlined steps to developing an action plan.

“In order to develop an action plan for your goal, first imagine that you’ve already achieved the goal,” said Urmey. “Then brainstorm the steps required to reach that goal.”

In addition to imagining the completion of goals, time management is an important factor in increasing the efficiency of developing a plan and should be evaluated.

“Next evaluate how you spend your time by writing down what you do throughout the day,” said Urmey. “Separate the day into different blocks and write down how much time each task takes.”

It became obvious during the discussion that being able to effectively manage your time is an essential part of setting and achieving goals.

“The reason we conform to the standard working day is because there is something in that structure we value,” said Urmey. “Conforming, however, is not necessarily the same as committing. That is where procrastination comes in.”

Procrastination is the action of delaying or postponing something. Typically procrastination occurs when someone is tasked with something they do not enjoy or are not interested in.

“Sometimes this could be because the thing we have to do violates our values,” said Urmey. “A good exercise in overcoming this is to tie the goal of completing the task to a value you have. We usually have goals because the goal itself is something we care about and value.”

In addition to procrastination, Urmey warned the class about the pitfalls of multitasking. 

“Multitasking can be an ineffective concept depending on how long it takes you to shift gears and change your mindset between tasks,” said Urmey. “This is known as lead time and it’s important to determine what your individual lead time is in order to better estimate how long tasks are going to take you.”

Understanding how time is spent can make it much easier to build an action plan for goals. 

Urmey outlined the following seven steps to help combat procrastination and start progressing on your goals:

1.      Stop Worrying

2.      Start Small

3.      Count the Cost (Weight Pros and Cons)

4.      Confront Negative Beliefs

5.      Take Responsibility (Be Accountable)

6.      Reward Yourself

7.      Actually Finish Things (Complete Small Tasks)

 

“Building rewards into goals and milestones is also a big help,” said Urmey. “Allow yourself to actually fantasize and dream about your goals and know that you can achieve them.”