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Reframing: How to Stop Procrastinating (Nursing)

by Rhonda Lawes

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    00:00 There’s kind of a cognitive psychology of procrastination.

    00:04 See, harder, tedious mental task light up the same centers of your brain as physical pain does.

    00:10 It is uncomfortable. It’s an uncomfortable kind of cognitive dissonance.

    00:15 Also, the anticipation of what we’re trying to procrastinate is when we can make things bigger than they need to be.

    00:21 I know I’m so good at doing that.

    00:23 I just anticipate how terrible or awful something is going to be.

    00:27 It becomes a bigger and bigger deal.

    00:30 See, procrastinating by putting that off, it gives me kind of a temporary excitement and relief.

    00:35 I start to crave that relief of that uncomfortableness.

    00:39 Almost like an addict.

    00:41 That’s how the cognitive psychology of procrastination teaches us that it becomes a keystone habit.

    00:48 Now, procrastination is a habit that can be changed like any other habit because procrastination becomes habitual avoidance.

    00:56 We do it once and we keep doing it more times and more times.

    00:59 So, let’s make sure you understand why all of us can get caught in doing this.

    01:04 We want to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

    01:06 Those pain centers in the brain are lightning up, right? When we procrastinate, we feel like we got away with something, or if it was going to be boring, we get relief from that boredom.

    01:16 Sometimes when we procrastinate, we’ve managed to just, "Boooo," slide it in under the wire.

    01:21 I know there had been times when I have uploaded a paper just seconds before the last deadline and thinking, “Please, oh please, oh please, oh please, oh please, what if, don't fail me now?" Yeah, that’s a false confidence. We convince ourselves that, “Oh, I work better under a deadline.

    01:36 I think more efficiently when the due date date is really close.” No, we don't. That's a lie we tell our self.

    01:43 Every time we do that, we convince our self that we can get away with it when we really can’t.

    01:49 So, habitual avoidance becomes a habit because we’ve gotten away with it and we like the way it makes us feel.

    01:57 Now, I want to give you two big kind of ways that you can stop procrastinating.

    02:03 Automatic negative thoughts are one that I wanted to address.

    02:06 I also want you to deal with your pomodoro technique.

    02:09 Now, first, we’re going to talk about automatic negative thoughts.

    02:12 I call those ANTs. They kind of start in my brain and it’s like worrying or things like that that are not very good.

    02:18 They just automatically come into my head and they’re negative.

    02:22 What I do with my ANTs and what we recommend in cognitive therapy is to one, I’ve got to capture the thought.

    02:29 Recognize what I’m doing.

    02:30 Rhonda, you’re worrying about that paper that’s due, all right.

    02:34 Challenge and see if it’s based in truth or emotion.

    02:37 Well, I’m usually worried about it because I don’t know where to start.

    02:40 It seems so big. I don’t know what I’m going to do.

    02:42 Everyone else seems to be really good at their papers.

    02:44 No, stop and challenge that.

    02:46 Is that based in truth or emotion? Yeah, most of the time it’s based in emotion. Fear! The third step, change that thought.

    02:55 So, when automatic negative thoughts pop into my head and I’m really tempted to procrastinate so I cannot have to deal with some uncomfortableness and I can feel more comfortable, I capture the thought. I recognize what I’m doing.

    03:07 I challenge it. Hey, why are you doing this? Is that balance? Is that based in truth or emotion? Then I change that thought.

    03:16 Let me give you some simple steps on how to do that.

    03:19 Step one: if I'm really overwhelmed with a big paper or my dissertation, I ask myself, "What can I control? What can I control?" Then step two: Okay, Rhonda.

    03:30 Choose where you’re going to invest your mental energy.

    03:33 Then three: I take the next step, not twelve steps.

    03:37 One step forward and I reframe the charge of my focus.

    03:41 So, let’s take a dissertation. That’s a huge project.

    03:46 So I ask myself, "What can I control? What can I control?" Well, I can’t control how the faculty grades it.

    03:52 But what I can control is having a clear plan of how I'm going to attack each part of the paper and doing my very best on each one of the parts.

    04:00 Next, where am I going to invest my mental energy? Well, I’m going to choose to stop worrying about the whole process.

    04:07 When will I get this done? What’s the faculty going to think of it? I’m going to invest my mental energy in doing my very best on the next step of that paper. Now I know what the next step is and I’m just going to take one step forward.

    04:20 I’m going to tell myself, "I’m going to reframe the charge of my focus." I’m not going to do this out of fear.

    04:25 I’m going to do this. I'm like, "Look.

    04:27 I can handle this. I can push through this. I can do this." All I have to do is make it to the next step.

    04:34 Just like if you’re crazy enough to run which I hate.

    04:38 Runners tell me, they don’t think about...

    04:39 If they’re going to run three miles, they don’t think about, “Oooh, how am I going to run three miles?” They think, "How am I going to make it to the next stop sign." Then when they get to the stop sign, they think, "How am I going to make it to the next tree? How am I going to make it to the next house?" That’s exactly what we need to do when we’re procrastinating, one step at a time. Take a hold of those automatic negative thoughts.

    05:01 Capture, challenge, change and then do these four things.

    05:05 What can I control? What can I control? I’m going to invest my mental energy in the things only that I can control.

    05:12 I’m going to take the next step forward.

    05:15 I’m going to reframe the charge to remind myself: I can do it.

    05:18 I can handle it. And I can push through it.

    05:22 That’s how you deal with the automatic negative thoughts that come with procrastination.

    05:26 Now, let’s talk about pomodoro technique. I love this.

    05:30 I’m going to teach you how to crash two hours of study.

    05:34 See, we can do anything for 25 minutes.

    05:37 That’s the whole basis of the pomodoro technique.

    05:40 Remember, it just means tomato.

    05:42 So, it’s not anyone’s last name. It’s just another word for tomato.

    05:46 So, in your studying, what you need to have is a list the night before of things you’re going to do.

    05:53 I mean, you need to write down: Tomorrow, this is what I’m going to do, not just study for.

    05:59 I want you to be real specific and say, "I’m going to look at the first three generations of cephalosporin tomorrow.

    06:05 Then I’m going to look at the side effects.

    06:07 Then I’m going to work on my care plan." Okay, be as specific as you can.

    06:10 Because the more general and vague the task is, first of all, you won’t realize that you’re making progress and you won’t be very focused.

    06:17 Because the next question is I will work with focused attention on this.

    06:23 So, you need to be able to answer that question with your list of tasks.

    06:26 Then, the next day when it’s time for studying, I study much better in the morning.

    06:31 You might be better in the afternoon or the evening.

    06:33 You need to study at the time that works best for you and your schedule.

    06:37 But you set a timer for 25 minutes.

    06:41 During that 25 minutes, you can’t look at your phone or be distracted by anything else.

    06:47 It is 25 minutes full-court press focus, okay.

    06:51 I even do this when I have to clean my house because I hate cleaning the house.

    06:56 But what I do is for 25 minutes, I focus on cleaning the house and doing nothing else and not getting distracted because I absolutely have attention deficit disorder.

    07:05 So I’m just like, “Oh look, something shiny, squirrel, go.” No.

    07:09 When I’m using the pomodoro technique, I tell myself "25 minutes, I will work with focused attention on this task." I don’t look at my phone. I don’t let anything bing, bong or set up any kind of notification on my computer screen if I’m using that.

    07:24 Then after 25 minutes, I get a break.

    07:27 You can give yourself a 5-minute break.

    07:29 Stand up. Move around. Get away from my study area.

    07:32 Then I come back and I do it again.

    07:35 Now, you can choose to do it three more times for a killer two hours of study.

    07:41 Then you have to take at least a 30-minute break.

    07:44 Now, you can adjust that if you want to, If you want a 10-minute break or whatever.

    07:47 But I really recommend that you set a timer for your break because it is difficult to come back sometimes.

    07:54 So you have that timer that will give you the discipline to come back.

    07:57 You will be amazed that during that 25 minutes, the first minutes are the hardest because you keep thinking, "Are we done yet?" You know, I don’t think the clock moves slower than when I’m trying to do cardio exercise or than when I’m studying something I don’t like.

    08:12 But that timer holds me accountable.

    08:15 Now, here is something else that I do.

    08:16 I have a piece of paper next to me because I always get these brilliant ideas when I’m studying, right? I think of things that I want to do.

    08:24 So I think, all of a sudden I become Martha Stewart.

    08:26 I think, “Wow, you know what I should be doing instead of studying? I should be making my own marshmallows or rolling my own tampons or any of that." Yeah, no.

    08:34 Here is what I do when a bright idea comes to me.

    08:36 I write it down on that piece of paper.

    08:39 Now, when I write it down on that piece of paper, I don’t think about it again. Boom! I’m right back to working on my focused study.

    08:45 Now, I tell myself, “Hey, when I’m on my break time, I’m welcome to do any of those things listed on that piece of paper.” How often do you think I actually do anything on that piece of paper? Yeah, rare. That’s just my brain's way of saying, “We don’t like this. We want to do anything else.

    09:03 Let‘s make it seem more important than what you’re supposed to be doing.” That’s why that parking lot sheet, is what I call it, is a great tool to help keep me focused.

    09:11 Then if it truly is something of importance, I will get to it later and I won’t forget it.

    09:16 So that’s the pomodoro technique.

    09:18 In two hours, you do 25 minutes focused.

    09:21 Take a 5-minute break. Repeat that cycle three more times and then take a longer break.

    09:26 Tell yourself, "I can handle it. I can do it.

    09:30 I can push through it. It’s only 25 minutes." Because students say, "I studied eight hours today." No, you didn't.

    09:41 You were geographically approximate to study materials.

    09:46 but there’s no way your brain studied that much.

    09:49 I mean sometime you hear a faculty say, “Hey, your studying is a full time job.” Really? Because if I brought a stopwatch and a clipboard and watched you study, I promise you there is no faculty on the planet that could study for eight hours a day, five days a week.

    10:03 You have to give your brain some diffused time to work on those things.

    10:08 Remember, your brain will be working on the background.

    10:10 So, all of that information that you’re putting in, your brain is making new relationships with, with diffused study time.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Reframing: How to Stop Procrastinating (Nursing) by Rhonda Lawes is from the course Jumpstart Your Study Skills (Nursing). It contains the following chapters:

    • How to Stop Procrastinating
    • Pomodoro Technique

    Author of lecture Reframing: How to Stop Procrastinating (Nursing)

     Rhonda Lawes

    Rhonda Lawes


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