Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

appointment-15979_1920I have this really big assignment due. It’s going to take me lots of concentration and tedious work to get it done. Honestly, I don’t want to do it and I have been procrastinating.

Daily, I find lots of distractions and more interesting ways to spend my time. But in the back of my mind, I know that assignment is lurking, making me a bit anxious as it has to get done. I am procrastinating and I know it! So what can I do to get myself going?

Most of us could use a little help when it comes to tacking things we don’t want to tackle. We have this seemingly built in response to procrastinate. Good news is we can change our brains and push forward to doing what we don’t want to do. If procrastination is a learned habit, which it is, then it can be unlearned.

Here is what seems to help

  1. Break down the task to small, doable parts. Then decide when and how long you will work on that task. Just start. This is key!
  2. Start with some easy part. This will  prompt  you to keep  going.
  3. Be aware of your excuses. When they come into your mind, label them as excuses!
  4. Focus on what it will feel like to finish instead of how good it feels to avoid. Tell yourself that putting it off is just delaying the inevitable. Finishing will feel good!
  5. Have a few mini-delays built in to your time. Take a small break, answer an email and then get back to it. Teach yourself to return to the task at hand.
  6. Reward yourself for any part of the completion. Whatever small start you accomplished, acknowledge it and tell yourself, you can do this.
  7. Build in accountability. If you set it up that you have to perform or report, a little fear will get you moving.
  8. Don’t overthink the task. Just do it as Nike taught us!
  9. Work on the task a bit each day. Putting the entire thing off is overwhelming and creates last minute anxiety that can be paralyzing.
  10. When you finish, remember what you did and practice it again and again. This builds mastery and changes your brain.

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

baby-22194_1920You’ve got a final exam or you have to give an important presentation to the agency that could give you a promotion. There is so much to study and so much at stake.  So you decide to pull an all nighter. Cram a bit more, review the important points of your presentation.

Exhausted, you’ve had about 3 hours of sleep. It’s now morning and you’ve got to be on top of your game. You grab coffee and psych yourself up for the big day. OK here you go…

We’ve all done this, but does this work? Is it a good idea?

No! Lack of sleep can result in LOWER grades and performance because it impairs learning and memory. Sleep helps what is called memory consolation–getting the information to stick! So an all nighter is actually the wrong approach. In fact, if you really want to remember and be prepared, sleep before and after learning something.

To better remember things, sleep stages are needed to consolidate that memory. In other words, you need to sleep to learn and remember! In fact, students who get around 8 hours of sleep a night tend to have higher grade point averages than those who are shorter sleepers. Why? Because sleep impacts their concentration, working memory, mathematical capacity and logical reasoning. The part of the brain responsible for higher level cognitive functioning needs sleep!

And the lack of sleep can also impact your mood. In fact, in some cases, insomnia can prompt suicidal thoughts. If you think about it, when are people more irritable and cranky? When they need sleep!

Finally, lack of sleep reduces your alertness, making you more prone to making errors and mistakes. Your perceptions and judgments are off. You  simply don’t focus as well.

So to best prepare for that final exam or important presentation, review your notes and then get a good night’s sleep! Forget the all nighters. They simply don’t work! And you will be more pleasant to be around!

 

 

 

teen girl upsetIt’s not always easy to find people on whom you can depend. We look to family, friends and the church to be dependable. We want them to be true to their word, follow through with commitments and help meet needs during times of difficulty. Unfortunately, these sources let us down. No person, church or family is perfect.

When people or institutions fail us, we can become angry. Then bitterness sets in. Our anger stems from being disappointed. People didn’t come through. Promises made were broken.

Why do we get angry about this lack of dependability that is all around us? Because we chose to rely too much on people and things to bring us happiness. When our trust is in anything other than God, we will be disappointed. People can’t always be there in the ways we would like.

So what do we do? We put our trust in God. We depend on Him to meet our needs and bring us happiness. The story of Joshua in the Old Testament gives us pointers on how to depend on God.

The first chapter of Joshua begins with the Lord telling Joshua that Moses is dead. He tells Joshua to arise. In other words, stop looking to Moses to get you into the Promised Land. Moses is dead and isn’t taking anyone anywhere. Time to get to it yourself.

The Promised Land for many of us is a place free from distress, depression, anxiety and relationship problems. We want to free ourselves from dependency on others. Here’s how to begin:

  • Pitch your tabernacle far off from the camp –Ex. 33:7. The presence of God was in the tabernacle. The tabernacle was not close to the camp. Moses had to walk to it. This took effort but the Lord spoke to him face to face. Be inconvenienced and do everything you can to be in God’s presence. You need to find a church that helps you grow. It may not be close to your house. Everything about the church may not suit you. Find a church that equips you spiritually and pitch your tent there.
  • Stay in God’s presence. After Moses left the tabernacle, Joshua stayed. When things get tough, don’t give up. Stay in His presence. Even if everyone lets you down, you have the presence of God. Stay there and you will not be disappointed.
  • Believe God’s promises are for you. God tells Joshua that no man will be able to stand against him. What a powerful promise. If God is on our side, it doesn’t matter what people do. He will be our avenger. He will get us to the place of rest.
  • Follow the commandments and God’s laws. God tells Joshua not to look to the left or right. The message is that no one or thing will save you. Look to God, keep His commandments and He will accomplish His purposes. He will get you to the Promised Land.
  • Speak the promises of God. Don’t blame other people for your problems. Learn not to look to others to meet your needs. God makes this promise-I will supply all your needs. Believe it, say it and act as if it is true.

The next time you feel angry with someone for letting you down, look to God to be the one on whom you will depend. He won’t disappoint.

 

 

family teensReader Question: I would say that my husband is a type A (driven, structured) personality and both of our children are more like me, type B (relaxed, easy going). At times, this combination of personalities can be challenging. Do you have suggestions as to how to keep things calm but moving forward in our household?

Your question is really about how opposite temperaments learn to work together. Type A parents usually want their children to achieve and respond quickly to directions and consequences. Type B kids are more creative, laid back and tend to drag their heels on getting things done. Neither style is better than the other, but parents need to find ways to work with kids with opposite temperaments.

So one way to accommodate both styles is to make chores more of a game. For example, instead of ordering a child to empty the dishwasher, set a timer and play beat the clock. The important thing, according to Reginald Richardson of Northwestern University’s Family Institute, is to balance high expectations with warmth and support.

Studies do show that parents who are more authoritarian in their parenting style have kids with fewer behavior problems, higher academic achievement and less depression and anxiety. And eventually, many type B children grow up to see the value of setting goals and accomplishing them. So your husband’s push for order and getting things done should be balanced with fun, encouragement and support. The driven Type A parent has to be careful to show compassion along the way and understand that success can look different for different kids. The danger with pushing too hard is that children begin to feel they aren’t accepted for who they are and learn to conform to your dreams, not theirs. The best thing is to understand your child’s temperament and help him reach his potential and passion, using a balance of pushing and accepting.

 

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