The Big, Bad, Slow-moving Procrastination Monster

“What would you say is greatest weakness?”

There it is. The dreaded interview question that always seems to be a trick. The answer should be something that a person can overcome but not so easily that it’s not truly a weakness. Don’t forget to leave out the answers that are really just strengths reframed in slightly negative ways.

“I’m just too dedicated to my job. I practically have to be told to go home every night. “That’s how dedicated I am.”

As far as I can tell, no one believes those answers. I’ve yet to be asked this question in an interview, but I’m prepared. I’ve known what my biggest weakness is since I was little. It’s the big, bad, slow-moving procrastination monster.

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Because I’ve had its shadow looming over me for so long, I’ve had ample time to find ways to keep myself on track.

Make a list: I’m sure that I’m not the first person to make a to-do list when they’re stressed, but it makes a difference. I like to start with big items that I can break down into smaller tasks. It makes my lists ridiculously long but it also makes me feel accomplished and gives me momentum to finish out the rest of the day.

Find an office: Last semester, I was working as an intern for a Des Moines European Heritage Association. Because the organization is a fairly new, volunteer-based non-profit, they don’t have a physical office. That’s when I realized having a dedicated space to finish work in is really important to me. If I stay in my apartment all day working from my bed, I can almost guarantee I’ll end up watching Netflix.

Use SelfControl: It sounds like a cliché, but what I’m really talking about is an app that keeps me from getting distracted. SelfControl lets you make a list of websites that you don’t want to be able to visit. Once you’ve got your ‘blacklist’ together, it’s just a matter of setting your time limit. They range from 15 minutes to 24 hours, so choose carefully. Once the timer is set, there’s no going back. It has to run out. It’s only available for Mac computers but there are similar apps for other operating systems.

So, no, I haven’t come out completely victorious in this battle. I still struggle with procrastination at times. At the very least, I know I’m working toward making myself better and conquering my biggest weakness.