By Jackson Hale
Hello everyone and welcome to Forward all Inquiries. Here, we take questions about life in Aomori, about work life, and about anything that we can, and answer them to the best of our ability.
I am so excited for the new ALTs coming in this semester. Are you?
Ok, let’s get to our question.
I’ve always been a procrastinator but it feels like I’m really slipping hard into bad habits again now. Every time I have free office time, I tell myself I will get so much done, and I plan out a bunch of things to do: studying, lesson planning, writing, etc. However, I end up wasting the day on social media and end up kicking myself every day for being so lazy. What can I do to motivate myself more and to curb this habit before it really sets in?
– Lazy Susan
Hey Susan, I like your work ethic.
Look, when I worked in America (which I did for a year because I love having money before moving to a new country), I remember having a really great work ethic. I pushed my nose to the grindstone, and put in so many hours at my job because at the end of the day it made me feel good. Also, I felt really obligated to my office to do a great job. They worked hard, and I saw the results of their hard work because it made my job easier. In turn, I wanted to work even harder.
Call me a corporate stooge, but I love that stuff. I love wearing neck-ties, writing reports, leather shoes and filing things. I especially love feeling like a part of the office.
Entering JET, I was really passionate and ready to work my butt off every day. But because of the nature of our job, we can usually get by without doing very much. If we were so inclined, we can probably play on our phones between classes and be fine (if we don’t mind our teachers thinking poorly of us).
I hear what you mean, you want to do more, but at the same time, I would bet that no matter how much work you do, it seems that not doing it feels roughly the same as doing it. I would bet further that you write your lesson plan, and then it sits in a pile until time to do the lesson. I would bet further that you are a cool person. Hey there, cool person.
So, when I feel this way I always try to think of ways to tie myself to my actions. For example, I started presenting my teachers with lessons a week or so before class. I did this for feedback, but also to let the teachers know what I wanted to do in class. I did this so that I felt like it was expected of me.
This works well for lesson plans, preparing materials for class, and in general work-related tasks. You tie someone in a non-invasive way to the completion of the task, and you are becoming a part of the office.
Here is another thing you can do if you have the space. Get a whiteboard, and leave tasks for yourself on there. People in your office can go see the things you have planned for yourself. Then, after you complete a task, you take it down, move it to an area marked as completed, and at the end of the day add more tasks for the next day.
This shows your office not only your tasks (to let them know you are not just slacking off), but makes you feel obliged to perform these tasks (because if they stay on the board for too long your office will assume you are a slacker and that’s no good if you care about what your office thinks of you).
For things like studying, it is a bit different. Studying Japanese can feel so incremental, and sometimes after studying you might feel like you didn’t learn enough to really help, which makes you feel like you didn’t use your time well.
But remember that nothing important ever happens on social media. Your life will never change because of how many likes you get, how many reddit upvotes you do or don’t do, none of it matters. You can only look at so many pictures of dogs being good boys before you die. And the pursuit of looking at social media is not inquisitive, but acquisitive, and in no way will you ever get to the bottom of that glass.
So you need to get in the habit of studying or working. Even if it feels terrible, mark out the time in which you will study ahead of time. Start slow, with a 30 minute block. Let yourself know you are going to study from 3 to 3:30, and then do it. That way, you will have mentally prepared yourself for the act of studying. (It sounds like BS, but it helps you visualize how crappy studying is going to be.)
Lastly, your body knows what you are going to do before you do it. Your body knows when you are going to stand up before you even decide you are going to stand up, and it adjusts all the inner pulleys and levers so that you don’t pass out when all the blood pressure changes. In the same way, at work your body prepares itself to do what it expects you to do. You have to physically tell your body to prepare to study, so you can sit down and study. After developing the habit, your body will be much better at studying, and you will feel like studying is actually useful.
OK, I hope this has helped. I am also at work forcing myself to write this article, so I am right there with you Susan.