Procrastination, or the action of delaying something, is a familiar beast to the majority of students; in fact, nearly 70% exhibited signs of postponing the hard-graft in a recent study conducted in North America.
We’ve all been there; a quick email check or glance at Facebook and then we’ll get our head-down and begin our essay, we promise ourselves. But in reality that’s much easier said than done, and 2 hours down the line we can end-up feel dejected and frustrated, and no closer to crossing the finish line.
To help, we’ve put together our top techniques to help you avoid procrastination.
1) Prioritise your studying
Human nature means we often opt to complete the easiest task first. The problem with this is that the harder or most daunting jobs are left to the last minute. To avoid this last-minute panic, create a to-do list, prioritising the most important or hardest tasks. Overcoming these sooner rather than later relieves stress as the deadline looms and will give you a good dose of motivation and self-belief before embarking on your exam or essay submission.
2) Use dead-time to ‘micro-study’
There are plenty of times throughout an average day when we find ourselves staring into space and whiling away the minutes; waiting for the bus, sitting on the train, waiting for your dinner to cook. Although these moments are brief and sporadic, they add-up; and using them for micro-studying can be positive on two counts. Firstly, these brief moments can be excellent for embedding small concepts or facts which can, in turn, give you a great motivational boost. This sense of achievement (however modest) can help inspire you to avoid procrastination during study time.
3) Make it as fun as possible
Let’s face it, research, revision and essay writing will never be as fun as hanging out with your friends. But, it’s unavoidable, so it’s worth your while to make it as appealing as possible in order to evade procrastination. One of the best ways to jazz-up study time is to create a reward system. For instance, for every hour of uninterrupted work, give yourself a treat – this could be 10 minutes on Twitter, or reading a chapter of your book. Whatever takes your fancy! Creating such a system of self-study can encourage you to get your head down and crack on.
4) Break-down your study into chunks
Considering all of the studying you have to do en-masse can be incredibly daunting, and can create a sense of panic and impending doom that will only feed procrastination. To avoid this crippling situation, break your studying down into manageable chunks. For instance, if you have an enormous essay or dissertation to complete, separate it into different study sections: researching, writing the introduction, exploring the different topics involved, writing the conclusion and finally proof-reading. Create a tick-list with each ‘chunk’ and tick them off as you go; perhaps rewarding yourself as you go.
5) Remove distractions
Procrastination is fuelled by silly distractions; radio in the background, family buzzing around, friends gaming in the corner. To reduce the risk of getting drawn away from your books, remove yourself from as many distractions as you can. This could be turning-off the TV and shutting yourself away in your room, or perhaps even relocating to the library. Another effective way of reducing the risk of distraction is by downloading a site-blocking tool, such as Google Chrome’s StayFocused. With such tools you can block yourself from visiting certain websites for a certain amount of time.
6) Live healthily
During stressful study periods, unhealthy habits can soar; you might find yourself consuming more junk food and energy drinks and sleeping and exercising less. Ironically, such periods are when you need to be at your most healthy to maintain energy and focus. Resist temptation; eat healthily, make sure you sleep 6-8 hours per night and schedule in regular daily exercise.
Dr. Piers Steel, author of The Procrastination Equation says that “aside from the cliché that students are more impulsive, in your early 20s you’re still developing your pre-frontal cortex, home of the will power.” It is no wonder, therefore, that students struggle with procrastination and reject pen and paper in favour of Facebook. Don’t beat yourself up if this sounds familiar. But follow these six simple techniques and you should see your study-times become more successful.