How to: stop procrastinating
Everyone is guilty of procrastinating, a little, or a lot. Up to 95% of students procrastinate. There are just so many distractions these days, YouTube is only the start of it…
The good news is, we’re not blaming you… we’re all in it together. The bad news is we can run but we can’t hide – after all that procrastinating, the work still needs to be done.
Here’s our advice for managing your time better and ousting procrastination…
Make lists your best friend
Having sight of all you’ve got to do – especially when it’s a list as long as your arm – can be daunting, but it’s the best way to get your head straight and formulate a plan for tackling it.
Plus, having everything written down and ticking things off as you go is a visual reminder you’re making progress, which is motivation in itself.
Top tip: add a few things you know are quicker and simpler to complete so you can feel that sense of pride sooner.
Split your task into smaller tasks
Looking at your upcoming revision as one big task is scary. By splitting it up into bite size chunks, you’ll start to see the smaller tasks as manageable and achievable, stopping that panicky, overwhelming feeling.
Start by splitting your course up by module, then sub sections of areas you need to learn. Then, have a think about how to prioritise and focus on one task at a time.
A revision timetable will be your bible
Creating a revision timetable is an old classic, but it really does work. Go through the list you’ve made of sections you still need to cover and guesstimate how long each will take you to grasp.
Think about how you learn best, if it’s solid learning for an hour then taking a break, work out how many hour long sessions it’ll take you to revise that section.
Then you can plan this into a timetable – work backwards from when you’d like to take your exam and dedicate certain days and times for revision of a particular topic.
Cross reference this with any other commitments you have so the deadlines are achievable. Great Aunt Mabel’s 90th birthday party might take you out of revision for a whole day – those things can get really out of hand. Be sure to factor that stuff in.
Plus, with time bound action points, you’re less likely to waste time procrastinating – win.
Use peer pressure to your advantage
Tell others about your goals and deadlines and ask them to check on your progress. It’s far easier to miss your deadline or skip a revision session when you’re the only one who knows you’ve failed.
Getting your family and friends involved puts the pressure on and you won’t want to let them down – make sure you call on someone you know will crack the whip.
Ditch the distractions
It’s an obvious one but taking away distractions can really improve your flow of concentration. If technology is distracting you, switch off what you don’t need.
Turn off your phone and stop email alerts and definitely don’t have the TV on when you’re trying to work. Even when you’re not a procrastinator, yet another episode of Friends or the delicious looking cakes on Bake Off are bound to drag your attention away from the task at hand.
Sometimes even being at home is a big enough distraction. ‘I’ll just have a quick wipe down of the kitchen counter before I start’ could very quickly slide into full blown project clean. What’s more, the intention to get straight to work afterwards will sure as hell have no way of surfacing – you’ll be absolutely shattered from all the cleaning and just want a nap.
Head to your favourite coffee shop or a pub to get away from distractions at home… Best not to go somewhere too lively otherwise you might be up dancing on tables before you know it.
Give yourself a pat on the back
Say to yourself you can have a snack or even a beer* if you finish a section or complete a practice paper.
Make sure you really appreciate how great it feels to finish something; celebrating small successes will spur you on for the next task – when you can get your next reward.
*try not to use this reward for every task you complete – it may do more harm than good when it comes to your concentration.
Visualise your success
At times when you’re feeling like giving up, this is where you really need to dig deep. Remember why you signed up in the first place and imagine yourself at the end.
Visualise what it’ll feel like to get your qualification, what it’ll be like to ace that interview and walk into your new job on your first day – the first day of the career you’ve been dreaming of.
Always think of the bigger picture.
Ask for help
Sometimes procrastination is just a result of being a bit stuck with something. You put something off because you know it’s going to be difficult.
Asking for help or advice can be the difference between feeling totally on your own and unable to move forward, or feeling supported and empowered to keep going.
It’s rather cliche to say ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’, but we don’t care… it’s true.
You can always count on our StudentCareTM team to help whenever you’re stuck, or need some extra motivation.
What if you just can’t stop procrastinating?
As we said before, we’re all guilty of procrastinating, so if you must procrastinate, do so productively…
1. Get a clear workspace
A tidy desk is a tidy mind – we all know that. But how about going through your virtual desktop and having a proper clean up? Put things into organised folders, that way it’s easier and quicker for you to find extra revision collateral you’ve saved.
2. Pimp your stationary
A bit of desk candy can really brighten up the revision process. If you’ve got some funky flashcards or a sparkly new Apple Mac – yes this is your excuse – your desire to use them will coerce you into action. Clever huh?
3. Turn up the volume
It’s not for all of us, but if you’re someone who concentrates better with a bit of music, spend your procrastination time prepping a killer playlist on Spotify. Having your fave tracks blaring is a sure fire way to get you geared up for a solid session of work.
Get off your bum and do it
You’ve already spent 10 minutes procrastinating on this blog – it’s time to get your head down and do some work…
Share your tips: How do you cope with your procrastination tendencies? Do you have any tips of your own? Let us know in the comments…