Saturday, October 9, 2010

Personal Study Habits: Overcoming Procrastination

One habit that plagues many students across the world myself included is procrastination. Why do we procrastinate so much? What steps can we take to rid ourselves of this bad habit?   As I write this article, I am fighting the clock once again to get this finished. However, I want to layout for you how I plan to overcome this habit in my own life and hopefully if a fellow procrastinator is reading this, they will get something positive out of it as well.
First of all, why do so many people procrastinate or leave tasks that must be completed to the last minute. Part of why procrastination runs rampant throughout the world is because of how easy a trap it is to fall into. But what is the root cause? As I learned in a recent visit to God’s Bible School and College, procrastination stems mainly from two things; fear of failure and laziness. Now that we know what the problem is, how do we prevent it from reoccurring?
            How do we overcome our fear and our laziness? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve experienced both of these feelings. Sometimes I’ll look at my assignments for the week and come across one of the lengthier ones and let out a defeating statement like “that is too hard” or “this is going to take forever.” This is a big no-no and often leads to putting the assignment off to the last minute or not doing it at all. A necessary step to overcoming procrastination is setting a positive mindset. Surely at some point in your academic career you have done well on a rather difficult assignment. One approach to take is drawing on those past accomplishments and telling yourself that you can succeed. 
            Another approach that ties into getting the right mindset and I believe must be taken to overcome fear of failure is accepting the fact that failure is often a better teacher than success and is sometimes necessary for success. I can’t remember who said it but there’s a saying that goes, “The greatest triumph isn’t that we never fail, but in rising up after we fall.”  Does that mean we should fail on purpose or not try? Of course not! The point I’m trying to make is we won’t always succeed and through our failures we can learn how to achieve success. Perseverance plays a big part in realizing many of our goals in life. Most of us won’t have everything handed to us on a silver platter and will have to work hard to meet these goals.
            What else can we do to overcome procrastination? I’ve become a big believer in time management and a key to managing your time effectively is making out a schedule and keeping to it. I would recommend writing the schedule down either in your phone, computer, or daily planner. I would also recommend coming up with some way of holding yourself accountable for keeping to the schedule and setting up some kind of punishment if you don’t stick to it. It can help to set sub- goals within the main goals such as getting a certain amount of the assignment done by a designated time. This helps in overcoming the lazy portion of procrastination.

            In conclusion, even though procrastination is a big problem for many people, there is a way to overcome it. It starts by ignoring that negative voice in your head that says things to discourage you from accomplishing necessary tasks and meeting deadlines. As with most achievements in life, eliminating procrastination and developing good study habits is a process and won’t happen overnight. However, with the right mindset, some perseverance, and dedication to a set schedule, you and I can become better managers of our time and better students as well.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tyranny of the Urgent Review

Charles E. Hummel opens his book, Tyranny of the Urgent by asking a question many of us would undoubtedly answer yes to,Have you ever wished for a thirty-hour day?” Though Parkinson’s Principle indicates that work expands to fill all available time, I nonetheless would treasure a few extra hours here or there. Most of us whether we are going to work, school, or running errands have some sort of “plan of attack” or a certain time frame for what we want to get done. Whether you receive an unexpected visit from a friend or a phone call from a relative, it goes without saying that things don’t always go according to plan. We don’t have foreknowledge of the future as God does, so we can hardly predict or prevent these unexpected events, even if our motto is to “expect the unexpected.” The fact of the matter is, time won’t stand still or expand for us so we must make good use of the time we have. This is where Hummel’s book, Tyranny of the Urgent comes in. The main concepts outlined throughout the book are that of managing your time by setting priorities based on what’s most important and also dependence on God for direction and peace. The most memorable quote of the book is found on page 5. Here Hummel recalls a conversation he had with a factory manager who told him “Your greatest danger is letting the urgent things crowd out the important.” It’s so easy to let the errands, chores or recreational activities of the day “crowd out” or begin to take for granted things that are important. This is especially true with setting time aside for God or family or even important tasks that require out attention. The question we must ask ourselves is; does what we consider our top priorities in our minds line up with the amount of time we spend doing them or does something less important take too much valuable time away from them? Hummel tells us of a college student named Paul who found that he didn’t have enough time to study and felt stressed and anxious when trying to complete his work. Paul was running down his activities, one of which was playing pool for about a half hour a day, to see where he could free up sometime. Paul decided to keep a timed record of all his activities throughout the week and found that he actually spent more like an hour or hour and a half a day playing pool. This shows how helpful keeping track of time can be to evaluating what your priorities are and how you can balance them out if you feel you need more time for something important. So what’s the secret to maintaining a correct order of priorities and peace of mind? Hummel shows us the key to these achievements is complete and utter dependence on God and following the example of Christ. Christ through his complete dependence on the Father and following the Holy Spirit was able to truly say he completed every task he was given to do. Hummel shows us that God has a plan for us to follow for His glory and the fulfillment of our every need, whether it is physical, mental, or spiritual. When it is all said and done, we want to hear God say to us, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” It is said that some will enter heaven “as one escaping through the flames” (1 Cor. 3:10-15) These are those who have built a on the foundation of Christ using gold, silver, wood etc(worldly things) will experience loss as their works are “burnt up” and their reward is less than it could’ve been. I don’t know any Christians who would like to hear God say to them that there was so much more he wished to give them if only they had followed him more diligently.

          I was taught at an early age the value of correct priorities and what correct priorities are: God, family, friends (who are fellow believers), others, and self. I think you can apply this order of relationship priorities to your activities as well. For me, Hummel’s book The Tyranny of the Urgent embodies more than just helpful suggestions on managing our time. I think the book shows us steps that must be taken to experience life the way it was meant to be. The key is maintaining a relationship with God and complete dependence upon Him for our every need. In a society as technologically advanced as ours, it’s easier than ever to get distracted and lose sight of what’s important, but this is something we must not do.
          In earlier times people who were lost or needed direction would consult a compass and/or map to find their way. Nowadays, we have a device called a GPS to guide us. Sometimes you might feel like you know where you’re going and you don’t need to depend on a GPS. Here and there it can happen that you lose your way or take a wrong turn at a fork in the road somewhere and feel like you’re never going to get to your destination or find your way back. Then you could stop and ask for directions, but you could end up asking the wrong person and receive wrong directions too. If things like this can happen in everyday life, how much more can losing our way happen spiritually if we aren’t depending on God for direction! Sometimes we can think we know the right way and not consult God and so we end up going the wrong way. The devil is constantly trying to lead us the wrong way or give us bad directions, but if we are dependent on God we will be able to discern what is from Him and what is from Satan.  I personally, through reading Hummel’s book have come to realize that I need to make some changes in my priorities and create more time to devote to prayer and seeking after God. In the coming weeks, I plan to implement the time keeping program Hummel speaks of in pages 19-30 and discover how I can better manage my time. By the grace of God alone all of us can become fully equipped to complete everything God has prepared for us to do and overcome the tyranny of the urgent.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Christian 's Mission Statement

 My mission or purpose in life is first and foremost to serve God. The road to this point of my life has been a long and arduous. Almost three years ago, I sat in my bedroom feeling lost and without any purpose or direction. It was then that I bowed my head and humbling myself asked God for forgiveness and to become the compass of  my life. I had tried and failed to live life apart from His grace and presence in my life. Through an old friend from high school, I came into Voice of Hope Ministries and began to go through a life changing process. This ministry is unlike any I have ever been a part of before, mainly because of its  uncompromising and humble nature. The Gospel that is preached here in a small church of about 20 members is not served up buffet style so as not to offend people who like to play church or people the pastor knows who are living in sin. When you have a church that preaches the whole Gospel, the people who play church either stay away or they decide to get serious with God. As I not only listened to what I was taught, but put it into practice, the life I once knew, filled with self-centeredness , coarse joking and lusts of the flesh were replaced by a life that was God-centered and Godly desires as I learned what it truly meant to be a Christian and how enjoyable a relationship with Christ could be.

In the brief time that I have been a Christian, I have seen, heard, and experienced many things that have helped me discover who I am and why I am here. The answers to these questions are different for everyone. No two people have the exact same purpose in life, but all need one thing to accomplish it, Jesus Christ. Without Christ in our lives, life is as meaningless as a computer without a processor or battery, it can't function properly and is nothing more than dead weight. After submitting my life to God, I found that my purpose was to serve Him with the talents and abilities he has given me. Out of my love for music and creativity, God has cultivated within me a talent for writing Christian lyrics. I strongly believe that God has a big purpose for this talent in strengthening the faith others and encouraging to get right with God and follow Him wholeheartedly, whether they are Christian or not. While the exact purpose and extent to which God will use the talents he's given me has not yet been revealed, it has certainly began to take shape and I'm excited to see what God will do in the days, months, and years ahead. I know that as long as I stay humble and in step with the Spirit that God will continue to equip me with all that I need to succeed in becoming the best witness I can be of the Gospel of Christ and exemplify the victory that is found only in  a life completely surrendered to God.