Monday, March 2, 2015

Are You a Procrastinator? There is a solution!

 By Karen Nutter, founder of Life Coaching by Karen and UNFCE Instructor

Are you a Procrastinator?
Procrastination is a common issue among people today. Countless people struggle with deadlines everyday – feeling impending doom as the exam or project date gets closer and closer. It’s one of the largest problems seen in college counseling centers, and it’s something nearly everyone has to deal with at some point in their lives.

There are many underlying root causes for procrastination, and the specific cause varies according to the person. The causes are often related to one another, however, and many of them must be adequately addressed before you can overcome your procrastinating tendencies.

 Research has shown people who procrastinate typically make five cognitive distortions which promote procrastination. (What’s a cognitive distortion? It’s generally known as irrational thinking, or thinking in an illogical fashion.) For instance…
  • A person overestimates the amount of time left to perform a task and underestimates the amount of time required to complete it
  • A person overestimates the amount of motivation they’ll have in the future (often believing they will be more motivated to do the task in the future, like maybe tomorrow)
  • A person believes they need to be in the right mood to be successful in completing the task and that, if they’re not in the right mood, they won’t be very successful at the task

Not sure if you’re a procrastinator? Take this test by Psychology Today.


Most people procrastinate because they pursue perfectionism, are fearful of doing the task badly, or are simply too disorganized with their time and resources. Procrastination can also be an indicator of something else going on with the person, such as a sign of Attention Deficit Disorder. Which of the following best describes you?

Perfectionists engage in a great deal of irrational thinking but, like most such thoughts, they don’t realize they’re doing it. Perfectionism is defined by:

  • A fear of failure or of making mistakes
  • A fear of disapproval or letting someone else down
  • Black and white thinking (it’s either all or nothing, there are no shades of gray)
  • An emphasis on “shoulds” (“I should be able to do this!”)
  • And a belief that other people’s success comes easily to them

Perfectionistic attitudes set in motion a vicious cycle. First, perfectionists set unreachable goals. Second, they fail to meet these goals because the goals were impossible to begin with. Failure to reach them can be inevitable. Third, the constant pressure to achieve perfection and the inevitable chronic failure reduce productivity and effectiveness. Fourth, this cycle leads perfectionists to be self-critical and self-blaming, which results in lower self-esteem. It may also lead to anxiety and depression. At this point perfectionists may give up completely on their goals and set different goals, as they (wrongly) think, “This time if only I try harder I will succeed.” Such thinking sets the entire cycle in motion again and again and again. It’s vicious!

Fear is a big motivator, but it can also be a big reinforcement to actually NOT get much accomplished. Procrastinators who are driven by fear usually use avoidance and have an intense desire to delay performing a task, or simply wait for its expiration, so that it no longer has to be dealt with. As the number of tasks mount, the procrastinator can become depressed and resigned to failure. The fear is very self-reinforcing in that each time they fail a task because of procrastination, it reinforces their own belief of their abilities and self-worth, “I knew I was going to fail, so what’s the use of even starting work on the next assignment?” This cycle will repeat itself endlessly over the course of a year, with the person simply paralyzed by the fear of failure or doing badly on the task.

Fear of failure or doing badly on a task is difficult to overcome, because the fear is usually based on an emotion rather than logic. Most tasks are logic-based, while most procrastination tends to be emotion-based (or disorganization, a form of illogic). Overcoming fear-based procrastination can be accomplished by using the same tools and focus as you use when overcoming disorganization. The good news is that once a person accepts they can be successful, success always follows!

Disorganization is probably the largest cause of procrastination. Nobody is ever taught organizational skills in school. The largest disorganization issue is properly prioritizing tasks. Most people who procrastinate tend to tackle the easiest tasks first, regardless of whether they are urgent or not. More urgent or difficult tasks, however, begin to pile up as they are continually put off. Eventually, these urgent tasks must be attended to, and the current task gets pushed aside to focus on the immediate urgent task. You can see how this quickly leads to a disorganized schedule and a misunderstanding of which tasks should be tackled in which order.

Disorganization is reinforced by a couple of irrational beliefs that have little basis in fact. One such belief is that tasks are all large chunks that can’t be subdivided. If the task cannot be tackled all at once, as a whole, then the task isn't even worth working on. Another irrational belief is that every new task or opportunity that arises must be first dealt with before going back to work on the most urgent task. This means that the procrastinator is often unable to stay “on task” because something else has come up. The “something else” can be anything… The point is not what the something else is, but that it keeps the person from continuing work on their main task. Lastly, many procrastinators suffer from the belief that they have a better memory than they do. We all like to think we can remember everything told to us, all important deadlines, exam dates, etc. However, the fact is, though, in this fast-paced, multi-tasking society, it’s easy to forget stuff (even important things!). Unfortunately, many procrastinators won’t admit to forgetting anything, compounding their procrastination and disorganization problems.

So, how can we overcome our procrastinating ways? Well, the first step is to get your days organized, and then work from there.  You can download my FREE Time Management Tool, which has been proven to help many clients move past procrastinating and actually get things done on a timely manner!


About Karen:

After years as a top producer in Sales and Marketing, Karen went back to school and graduated with a degree in health, found a job that allowed her to continue her learning while developing her coaching skills and those of other health professionals, and now she is doing what she loves by helping other people create the life they desire and deserve. As a UNFCE Instructor, Karen teaches classes that help others to realize the life they have always wanted. Find out more about her upcoming Manage Your Time and STOP Procrastinating class and view all of the Health and Wellness classes at UNF Division of Continuing Education at our website.

This article is part of a series of UNFCE Instructor posts to help you Take The Next Step in your personal and professional journeys. All posts are tagged with #TakeTheNextStep. Please comment and tell us what topics would be meaningful to you and be sure to let us know if this topic was helpful.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Get to Know Conner Harvey, student staff member extraordinaire!

Conner Harvey
We are pleased to shine the spotlight on Conner Harvey, extraordinary person and one of the indispensable leaders of our student support team. A Jacksonville native and senior at the University of North Florida, Conner has worked at UNF Continuing Education for the past two years and has endeared herself to staff, instructors, and continuing education students alike.
Dean Robert Wood highlights one of Conner’s many accomplishments: "Conner had real work experience going to Burris Logistics in Lakeland FL and did assessments for 5 people. This was invaluable to our division, and more importantly our customer. This was an urgent demand by the client and Conner was able to help and did a great job of interacting with one of our new business supporters."

When asked to describe her experience at UNFCE, Conner replied, "Coming to work at UNF Continuing Education always puts a smile on my face! The staff here really is like a second family to me and is always making an effort to see how things are going in and outside of work. The best part of working here is the flexibility with my class schedule, being able to meet so many wonderful new people every day, and even feeling important with what I do here. It is nice to feel so appreciated by the students and instructors for doing some of the simplest things for them that make their experience that much better!"
Anyone who has spent any amount of time around UNFCE can’t help but notice the integral part that our student support team plays in the successful operation of our division. Jeanette Toohey, Director of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute agrees: "Work Study students are critically important to our Division's commitment to high quality Customer Care. They ensure that the lifelong learners we serve have a positive experience in our classes and our classrooms . They also provide extremely important support for our instructors, that maximizes their teaching enjoyment as well as the positive impact of the programs they teach ."
Last May, Conner was selected for the UNF Service Learning Team
that went to Hawaii to work in local schools assisting special needs students.
We are glad she got to have some fun, too!
Conner will receive her Bachelors of Arts in Special Education with a focus in Deaf Studies on May 1st, 2015. She plans to teach 4th or 5th grade deaf and hard of hearing students somewhere close to home next school year. We will certainly miss her around here next year but we know that she will continue to be a positive role model for all who have the privilege to work with her and for her students.

The next time you are in our office, please say a big thank you to Conner and all of our other student support team members. They are in many ways the heartbeat of the division.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

OLLI Enrollment opens March 2. Are You Ready?

Spring Summer 2015 Catalogs on their way to members!

The gentle rains signal that Spring is on its way. So are your UNF OLLI catalogs for the combined Spring and Summer 2015 terms!

Thanks to your intrepid Curriculum and ED-ventures team volunteers and your generous volunteer instructors more than 100 fun and interesting programs await you next term.

Can’t wait to get started planning your Spring and Summer OLLI schedule? Click here  for a digital page turning copy of the catalog (Adobe Flash required) 

We’re doing our part to engage you. Won’t you do your part to ensure your enrollment success?