The next time you have a writing deadline, try using an un-schedule to outline a realistic plan for when you will write. An un-schedule is a weekly calendar of all the ways in which your time is already accounted for. When you make an un-schedule, you consider not only your timed commitments such as classes and meetings, but also your untimed activities such as meals, exercise, errands, work, sports, after-school activities, clubs, and time with friends and family, and the like. It is not a list of what you should do in a given week; rather it is an outline of the time that you will necessarily spend doing other things besides writing.
Once you have made your un-schedule, take a look at the blank spaces. These represent the maximum number of hours that you could potentially spend writing. By starting with these blank spaces as a guide, you will be able to more accurately predict how much time you will be able to write on any given day.
You may be able to see, for instance, that you really don’t have five hours to spend writing on the night before the paper is due. By planning accordingly, you will not only get a better night’s sleep, you may also end up with a better paper!
The un-schedule might also be a good way to get started on a larger writing project, such as a term paper or a presentation project. You may think that you have “all semester” to get the writing/presentation done, but if you really sit down and map out how much time you have available to write on a daily and weekly basis, you will see that you need to get started sooner, rather than later. In addition, the unschedule may reveal especially busy weeks or months, which will help you budget time for long-term projects.
Perhaps most importantly, the un-schedule can help you examine how you spend your time. You may be surprised at how much (or how little) time you spend watching television, and decide to make a change. It’s especially important that you build time for fun activities into your un-schedule. Otherwise, you will procrastinate in order to steal time for relaxation.
You can also use the un-schedule to record your progress
towards your goal. Each time you work on your paper, for example,
mark it on the un-schedule.
One of the most important things you can do to kick the procrastination habit is to reward yourself when you write something, even if (especially if) that writing is only a little piece of the whole.
Seeing your success on paper will help reinforce the productive behavior, and you will feel more motivated to write later in the day or week.