Ironically, I have been avoiding writing this post for quite a while now. I am the Queen of procrastination. Apparently my brain recognises exam season as the best time to re-organise my entire wardrobe or begin re-decorating my room… I’m my own worst nightmare. However, as this is my final year of University, I’m finally putting a few tips together to help pull myself – and all you fellow procrastinators (!) – out of this procrastination rut…
- Reward yourself
Getting started on a huge pile of work can seem like a massively daunting task, and just the thought of what you’re about to get stuck into can really put you off. I suggest starting a rewards system in which you allow yourself a 10 minute break, a cheeky scroll through Instagram, a small packet of sweets or some other reward at regular intervals to help power you through. At each milestone, give yourself a quick pick-me-up as an incentive to keep motoring through! I usually have a break to mess around on my few favourite apps each time I finish a set of lecture notes, stats questions or section of a scientific report – and I find that this really works for me.
2. Make lists
List are fabulous. My room is littered with them. I always begin the list with the quickest, easiest tasks so they can be crossed off fairly soon after I begin making my way through the tasks for the day. I find that it’s really useful if all tasks are written down in one place, so you don’t have to panic-read through emails, timetables and schedules to know that all tasks and deadlines are being taken care of.
3. Put your phone on airplane mode
I always seem to have my phone by my side when I’m working – and it is forever tempting me to check on my notifications as they pop up, and take ridiculous boomerangs of my “hard work” to put on Instagram. If your phone is on airplane mode, you won’t be bothered by pointless texts and unnecessary notifications from social media. It may be hard to remove yourself from your phone for a while, but it will be worth it in the end.
4. Set timers
Timers are a great way to schedule regular breaks and reward times. My brother is unable to concentrate on revision for more than 30 minutes at a time, so after every half an hour of note taking and Youtube-tutorial-watching, he takes a 15 minute break to watch an episode of his favourite Netflix show. This is a great way to control the amount of time you’re working for – even if you don’t have a short attention span. It is impossible to concentrate fully on what you’re doing for long periods of time, so use timers to take breaks to reset your brain and enable more efficient revision.
5. Separate your living space
In many student accommodations, you will find a bed and a desk in the same room. My desk only really seems to be used for makeup application and reading – as I usually choose to hop into bed, spread my belongings out and get typing/ revising/ blogging from this comfortable little base. To be honest, this is not the best way for doing things. Separate your living space – eat in your kitchen, work at your desk and sleep in your bed. It sounds very obvious, but segmenting what you do and where you do it, is much healthier and really aids a more efficient and happy work/ life balance.
6. Don’t overwork yourself
It’s just about 3 weeks in to this University year and I’m already panicking about deadlines that are due in a month’s time, and lecture notes that haven’t been fully written out. I’m up until 3 am most nights and constantly tired. None of this is particularly healthy, yet it seems to be the standard life for a student. I’m taking steps to ensure that I get more sleep and I promise I am trying to reduce the amount I panic! Overworking isn’t good for anybody and you’re unlikely to produce your best work if you’re overworked, tired, panicky and shaky from ridiculous coffee consumption. Take a day off at the weekend, chill out and don’t work yourself to the point of collapse. Work/ life balance is so important!
7. Include time for your social life
It can be so easy to let your social life slip away. Yes, you’ve seen a few of your friends in your lectures, but make time to meet them for a coffee or a quick bite to eat at a nearby restaurant or even at the Students Union. It can be all too easy to simply shut yourself in your room and revise for hours on end, but social interaction is important and grades aren’t the be all and end all of University life.
8. Use a schedule or planner
I love my planner from Skinny Dip. It has information about all my lectures, deadlines, friends’ birthday and upcoming projects. My life is contained within the pages and I carry it everywhere with me. This sort of goes back to my earlier point (2) about making lists and collating all the information about your Uni/ College/ School life in one place. Being completely organised is a wonderful feeling, and by keeping track of everything you should be doing over the upcoming weeks, you are able to organise your time more efficiently and prioritise important goals and projects.
9. Give yourself a break
Ultimately, give yourself a break! It is unbelievably easy to compare yourself to other students and wonder whether you’re doing enough work/ spending enough time studying/ getting high enough grades. But at the end of the day, you’re on your own path and can only do your best. Take time for yourself and put your health and wellbeing first. Apparently, years spent in education are meant to be the best years of your life – so make them count and remove some of that self-inflicted pressure.
10. If it can be done today, do it!
This is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever been given. If it can be done today, then do it today! There’s no point putting things off if they have to be done eventually anyway. Get them over with and move on to better and more exciting things! Do I really want to be writing about Population Genetics? Answer: No. But I’m doing it anyway because I don’t want to have to think about it tomorrow! This is a simple enough concept but it can really change your daily work load if you can manage to stay on top of it.
Do you have any anti-procrastination tips?
Fifth Harmony –> Work From Home