DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a big procrastinator. Whenever I have work that I don't want to do, even something as simple as the laundry, I find an excuse to not do it at that moment. Needless to say, I always regret not doing it earlier (like when I have nothing to wear and no time to do laundry before I go out). I find that once I start, it's not even that bad -- but I just can't get myself to start!
Do you have any tips to help me stop procrastinating so much? -- Delays Expected
DEAR DELAYS EXPECTED: I'm a big believer in making lists. I recommend that you write down all of your tasks, putting the ones you like the least at the top of the list. Boldface them, if that will help you to notice them. Set deadlines for each job so that you pace yourself. Check off each task when it's completed.
Schedule weekly duties such as laundry on your calendar for a particular day and time, so that the task simply becomes something you do at the same time each week. Routine helps to groom discipline.
The other key thing is to change the way you approach your responsibilities. Rather than claiming that you are a procrastinator, tell yourself that you used to be that way, but as of right now, you are changing. You have decided to handle your business, one project at a time. Then do it. When you slip, don't beat yourself up. Just go ahead and complete your tasks.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am about to graduate from high school. Lots of my friends are having graduation parties. I know it is customary to bring gifts to graduation parties, but I feel kind of strange doing that because I am graduating, too. Also, I am on a limited budget, and it will be hard for me to buy gifts for all my friends' graduations.
I don't want to be rude, but is it OK to show up to these parties empty-handed as a student? -- Graduation Frustration
DEAR GRADUATION FRUSTRATION: You do not have to bring a gift to every student's graduation party. I recommend that you give special gifts to only your good friends. You can do something special for the others who have invited you to celebrate with them. For example, give a beautiful card with a handwritten note that shares a sincere sentiment and memory of your time together in school.
If you have a photo of your friends and you, put it in a frame with a note. That could be a lovely reminder of good times in high school that may find its way into your friend's dorm room as he or she begins the transition to college.