Having exams myself next week, the irony of writing about how to stop procrastinating whilst ignoring my own work has not flown over my head. Yet, I feel in a way it shows how even the best students (myself included, of course!), have to deal with procrastination, and that there are ways of dealing with it. With major exams coming up for almost everyone, I will give a few tips that have helped me stop procrastinating when revising.
The number one tip I would give to people who are prone to procrastination, is to realize that they are doing it! I have often left Facebook on in the background whilst doing an essay or report. While it may seem harmless enough, a stray comment here or a ‘like’ there may soon add up to valuable hours being wasted by talking to a friend about next month’s Jesters get together! I would definitely recommend trying to log out of Facebook or any other social application and work resolutely for half an hour.
This brings me onto my next tip: Give yourself plenty of small breaks! Make sure you are well refreshed throughout your study period. If you need a break after a solid half an hour revising, go to the kitchen and make a brew. It not only gives your mind a rest, but will boost your productivity when you get back and drink it! If you do not need a drink or light snack to keep you focused, I would recommend perhaps five to ten minutes every hour spent on your favourite pastimes. Set yourself a goal that can be easily reached in an hour. Once you have achieved it, reward yourself with a few minutes of casually browsing the internet, or perhaps reading a chapter of a book. People work best when they feel they have time to relax, so make sure you give yourself plenty of rewards and breaks!
For another tip, I advise that when you get back to your room or study area, make sure it is presentable. I find that I study best when I only have my laptop and a few books and a notepad. If you have everything strewn across the floor and table haphazardly, you will lose your concentration if you have to stop for five minutes to find the book you are trying to quote!
Another great way of avoiding needless procrastination is to find a ‘study buddy’. I find that talking to someone about a topic that I am having trouble with really helps me out, and that your friend may understand some methods or problems that you did not. You will hopefully be able to explain other answers to them, so that it is a two way street! While not a necessity, I really would recommend someone to at least talk to, as it increases motivation and you could end with a stronger friendship at the end.
Exams are hard for everyone. It is a fact that many students struggle with hard questions, or stress in general. But to prevent stress from turning into procrastination, make sure that you are confident in your own abilities. This is probably the most important tip. Realize that you are not alone in wanting to stay in bed watching television, (I certainly have wanted to!). As long as you keep revision sessions short, sharp and with reasonable breaks in between, you will be fine.