Christie's blog

Don’t freak out – plan out

When I started grad school, I was freaked out. The school I was attending had a reputation as one of the top academic theological schools in North America, and I was intimidated just walking in the building.

My first class there happened to be a summer modular class, and I felt like the prof changed the topic every time I made a comment in the discussion (which, in my mind, meant: “O-kay, then… Well, we don’t want to go down that path, so let’s move on to something com-plete-ly different…”).

A lot of blogs seem to talk about being super-successful, super-confident, rah-rah-rah… But let’s face it – when any of us start something totally new, it’s intimidating.

After living in that fear for a few days, I realized I needed to re-gain some control. Since then I’ve learned about myself that if I want to gain confidence, I should prepare more. If you want to be confident in the face of a mountain of hundreds of hours of homework to somehow finish in the next 12 weeks, start planning.

A War on Delaying Tactics

Recently I came across an idea to combat procrastination that utilizes one of the most powerful anti-procrastination weapons ever – accountability.

In this case, it’s a way to be accountable to yourself, which—depending on your personality—may be easier or harder than being accountable to someone else.

The idea was in How to Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport. He suggests spending 5 minutes every morning writing out what you’re going to do that day, checking them off as you finish them. Nothing new there.

Here’s the powerful part: at the end of your day, if there is anything you didn’t complete, write out the reasons why.

I’ve started doing this, keeping a 4”x5” notebook with one page for each day’s list. And I’ve been highlighting my reasons (excuses) for not finishing things I had wanted to. So now I have a record that holds me accountable. After a week (day) of my lame excuses for not completing something (or actually, even the prospect of having to explain to myself why I didn’t do it), I’m pretty sure to get it done.