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Procrastination – a difficult word that makes life difficult



This word is not often used, and probably you’ve never come across it before, still a lot of people (including you may be) procrastinate every day of their lives. Longman dictionary gives the following definition: to procrastinate – to delay repeatedly and without good reason doing something that must be done.

How often do you put off doing something? You know you should do it, but you don’t. We often try to put off difficult tasks, unpleasant things. In spite of what the dictionary says, usually we have reasons for putting things off, we say to ourselves:


• I don’t have time.

• It’s unpleasant.

• I have too many other things to do.

• It’s difficult.

• I don’t feel like doing it now.

• I have a headache.

• I’m tired.

• Let me have a cup of coffee first.

• It might not work.

• I’ll do it when I can concentrate on it.

• I must think about it.

• Before I start I think I’ll take a break.


Well, we can think of plenty of excuses. However scientists say that the main reason for procrastination is fear or worry. We are simply afraid of doing something, so we invent excuses, try to put off doing it and secretly hope that the problem will go away by itself. It does not. Instead procrastination creates more fear and worry and more problems.

Procrastination is a bad habit, which can affect your work and your life. Try to fight it. The following tips may help:

• Keep your to-do list – write down things you have to do.

• Break down big jobs into smaller parts – even five minutes is enough to do something. The most difficult thing is to start. Once you start you usually get going. So get started.

• Try to get a better sense of time. We often think the job will take forever and so we try to avoid it.

• Set deadlines to yourself. If it doesn’t work, make them public.

Remember: procrastination wastes a lot of your time and time lost is lost forever, yesterday will never come back.

· Does procrastination affect your life?

  • Do you often put off doing something?
  • What do you think is the main reason for procrastination?
  • How can we fight a habit of putting off difficult tasks?

VOCABULARY PRACTICE

5. Express the following in one word.

waste, procrastinate, excuse, failure, deadline

 

1 delay action

2 use without a good purpose

3 fixed date for finishing (doing) something

4 reason given (true or invented) to explain or defend one’s conduct

5 lack of success

6. Fill in the correct word from the list below.

avoid, put off, excuses, success, discipline, procrastinated, wasted

 

1 There’s always the temptation to … the most difficult task till last.

2 He … until it was too late.

3 He’s always making … for being late.

4 Try to … danger.

5 The thought of … years behind him made Mark sick with bitterness.

6 He had all the attributes of a great leader: charisma, energy, ... and resourcefulness.

7 All great leaders share certain characteristics which must be seen as the key to their ... .

 

7. Complete the following text with the words in the box.

successful, famous, nervous, deal, managed, carefully, prepare

 

How to Succeed

Let me make a suggestion to help you (1) ____ with difficult situations. If, for example, you are taking part in a sports competition, meeting someone important, or giving a performance in front of a large audience, you will probably be quite (2) ____, and worry that you will not be as (3) ____ as you would like to be. What you need to do is to (4) ____ yourself thoroughly by running through the whole activity over and over again in your mind, (5) ____ going through every detail. For example, a (6) ____ pianist, imprisoned for seven years for political reasons, could still play magnificently on his release. When asked how he (7) ____ to play so well, his explanation was that he had practiced every day in his mind.

 

Language Development

8. Work with a partner. What advice would you give sb who wants to fight a habit of putting off difficult tasks? Give advice using should or shouldn’t.

You should / shouldn’t … (+ inf)

e.g. You should learn to plan your time. You should remember: the longer you put it off, the worse it will be. You shouldn’t leave your work until it’s done.
  get rid of your doubts and fears; list what you have to do; look at large projects as a series of steps you complete one at a time; focus on one task at a time; divide the task into parts you can manage  

 

 

9. Work in pairs or small groups. How do you remember all the things you have to do each day / week / month?

10. Now read the article and find out how many of your ideas are mentioned. Do you agree with the other ideas?

TIME-SAVING TIPS

Making lists is relaxing. It makes you feel important – all those things to do. It calms you down (it’s OK, it’s on a list somewhere) and it makes you feel good when you cross something off.

The world divides into two types of list-makers. Type A makes orderly lists, prioritises and calmly sets to work on them. Type В waits until panic sets in, grabs the nearest envelope and scribbles all over it, sighs with relief and promptly loses it.

The more you have to do, the more you need a list, and few people with high-powered jobs get by without them.

Julie Rost, chief executive of a large chain of supermarkets, says, “Before I go to bed, I have to write down everything that’s going to stop me sleeping. If I write something down, I feel I won’t forget it, so my lists are a great comfort.”

Jane Levy used to write Lists, but she would forget where she put them and then waste precious time looking for them. Then a couple of years ago she came up with a new system. Now she writes key words on the back of her hand! “At least I can’t lose it,’ she says. True, but too many trips to the bathroom could have disastrous results.

Des O’Brien, a self-employed business consultant, uses another method for organising his time. He writes a list of things to do and then organises them into categories: things that have to be done straight away; other things that it would be good to do today; things that are important but don’t have to be done immediately; and things that he can put off but that he doesn’t want to forget. “Using categories to order the world is the way the human mind works,” he says.

It’s all a question of what works best for you, whether it’s a tidy notebook, a forest of Post-it® notes or the back of your hand. Having tried all these, Kerry Johns, student, relies on her personal organiser. “My personal organiser has changed my life,” she says. “Up to now, I’ve always relied on my good memory, but now that I’m working and studying, I find I’ve got too much to keep in my head.”

So what are you waiting for? There’s no better time than the present to take control of your work and life. So, get out your pencil and paper and make a list.

Sue Kay & Vaughan Jones, New Inside Out, Macmillan

Conversation

11. Work with a partner. Act out the following dialogue.

 

What is your major?

Tim : Hey, Diane, what are you doing here?
Diane : Hi, Tim, how are you? I’m waiting for a friend.
Tim : I heard you’re going to graduate this summer. Is that true?
Diane : Yes. If everything goes alright, I’ll be getting my Bachelors degree in August. Then I need to start looking for a job.
Tim : I had to do that last year. It wasn’t easy. Do you have any job offers?
Diane : No, not yet. I sent out a lot of resumes, but I didn’t receive many responses. It’s pretty hard to find a job right now.
Tim : What’s your major?
Diane : Psychology.
Tim : That was my major when I started college, but I switched to engineering after the first year.
Diane : I think it’s easier for engineers to find a job.
Tim : I’m not sure about that. It took me about 3 months to find a job. I finally was able to get a job after I put my resume on one of those job websites.
Diane : Anyway, it really doesn’t matter. If I can’t find a job I’ll probably go back to school to get my Masters degree.

12. Comment on the following:

· Youth is a period of missed opportunities. (C. Connolly)

· If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. (Milton Berde)

· You will never write a good book until you have written some bad ones. (Bernard Shaw)

· Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent per­spiration. (Thomas Alva Edison)





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