One of every five adults are procrastinators, and college students are even worse—70 percent of them put off tasks, according to a DePaul University study.
At just 11 years old, Walter Levin knows that is not the way to get things done.
“Both kids and adults need to set goals and then get into the habit of working toward them,” says Walter, who recently published his first book, “The Kid Who Went to the Moon,” (www.spacekidbooks.com), and is working on his second in the series.
“I set aside a day and time, or days and times, every week to work on whatever project I’ve got. When it becomes part of your routine, you just do it!”
Walter’s book is also about a kid with a big goal, and the creative ways he and his best friend go about accomplishing it, including creating YouTube videos that go viral.
“Even though my book is fiction, I wanted it to be believable, partly because I like fantasy books that have enough real elements to make you think, ‘This actually could happen,’ but also because I want the kids who read it to really believe they can accomplish whatever they dream of,” Walter says.
Whether you’re a kid—or an adult—who procrastinates on working toward goals, Walter offers tips for success based on his first-hand experience.
• Focus on how you’re going to feel once you’ve made some progress. “If you’re a person who has a hard time sitting down to work on something, whether it’s an essay for school or cleaning your bedroom, think about how good it feels when you’re almost done,” Walter suggests. “Being almost there can actually feel even better than finishing!”
(Numerous studies back up Walter’s observation: We’re happiest when we’re making progress toward our goals as opposed to when we achieve them.)
• Have faith that whatever you’re trying to do will get a lot easier with practice. Walter is also an avid unicyclist, but he lost his balance more than once when he first tried to pedal a unicycle.
“I’m really glad for the experience of learning how to ride a unicycle because it was so hard for a long time. I thought, ‘This is impossible!’ and I wanted to give up,” he says.
Something, though, made him keep trying, day after day. Eventually, it became the easiest thing in the world.
“Whenever I’m trying something that seems like I’ll never get it, I think about how I felt when I first started unicycling,” Walter says. “You really can do anything with practice!”
• Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or other help. Sometimes we forget that we’re surrounded by people who know things we don’t know, and who can help us out just by giving some advice or showing us what we’re doing wrong, Walter says.
“It’s not a fail if you need to ask for help to keep you moving toward your goal,” he says. “It’s actually really smart. Some people waste a lot of time reinventing the wheel when they could be using that time, and the wheel that’s already been invented, and creating something cool and new!”