Tuesday, May 5, 2015

7 Ways to Manage Project Procrastination

I guess, for some of us, we reached a point at which feeling the deadline anxiety was more painful than making steady progress. Here's 7 ways to help students shake the monkey from their back.

But first, I wanted to share this clip from Brian Regan's comedy.



1. Encourage students to lay out the plan the day it's assigned.

When we start projects the day that it's assigned, it's easier to come back to it later. Tell your students that they don't even have to complete any particular part. Ask them to simply jot down a few ideas related to each criteria. You're not asking them to carve anything in stone – simply make some considerations.

2. Think backward from the final product to the first steps.

Keeping the outcome in mind is critical to staying on track with a project. Like tip #1, it's important to do this from the beginning. Teaching kids to think backward will help focus on making the right decisions moving forward. 

3. Have students write the dates and times they will spend time working on the project.

It's proven that when we write down our "appointments," as opposed to someone else doing it for us, we are about 30 percent more likely to honor the commitment. Make an explanation of a project into a lesson on time management with a simple agenda or calendar activity. 

4. Don't give students too much time.

Three weeks to do a few hours work outside of school will turn into doing it the night before. Also, remember to coordinate with other teachers who might also assign large projects to be completed outside of school. Set mini-deadlines to ensure that procrastination is held accountable more often. This might also show your students the value of working consistently throughout a given time frame.

5. Provide ample class time toward working on the project. 

I assign smaller pieces to larger projects and give students time to work during our regular class time. Why should they have to complete the project at home? I want to see them do it and ask questions right away.

6. Communicate with parents about what they can expect.

These days, we use email, Remind, phone calls, and video explanations. I like videos because I can show them the directions and project details on my computer screen while making a personal connection.

Since I started doing videos with parents, the communication over tough topics is more pleasant and less stress for everyone. Maybe they experience the person when they watch a video whereas email can be become lifeless and unemotional.

7. Be honest. Tell them that "when" they wait for the last minute, their stress level will be very high.

Assuming that your students will wait for the night before gives them the opportunity to prove you wrong. Let them. Need I say more.