Procrastination- how to stay on track
Have you ever been in the middle of a study sessions and it’s going great
You see that speckle on your wall that’s sooooo much more interesting than the work in front of you. You focus on the speckle for approximately 2 minutes until your phone “be ding”s. You figure you might as well check it- it’ll be quick. Next thing you know you’re in 2042 wondering where all your time went. Happens all the time.
This time travelling phenomenon happens to everyone once in a while. The scientific term for it is “procrastination”.
I’ve found that procrastination can single-handedly prevent you from getting the grades you want. When you REALLY don’t want to do the work, almost everything seems enjoyable- cleaning your room, clicking your pen, staring at the same spot on your wall for about an hour, etc. Here are some anti-procrastination tips that I use whenever I feel the urge:
Study for 1 hour *max*
If I study for longer than 1 hour chunks (sometimes even 40 minutes), I start procrastinating, checking my phone and thinking that I should start my chores… Make sure to keep your study time short and sweet. One study found that the brain’s “attentional resources” drop after a long period of focusing on a single task. This acts to decrease our focus as well as performance. In other words, study will be more productive if you take short breaks every once in a while.
Set goals for each hour
When I set a goal for every hour of study, I feel motivated to achieve that goal. For example, if my goal is to finish revising chapter 2, I will not procrastinate until I know that I will finish the chapter in time. By doing this, it will also be easier to keep track of how much work you have done and how much you still need to do (for more more info on managing your time, head over to Prioritising and Organising).
Setting big goals for each hour
When I set a very achievable goal (e.g.: revise one chapter), I tend to procrastinate because I know that I can easily achieve it in an hour. Instead, I try set optimistic goals for myself (e.g.: revise two or three chapters) in an hour. By doing this, I make sure that I don’t procrastinate.
Reminding myself why I want to reach the goal
If I don’t have a reason for achieving my goal, why should I do it?! I usually want to finish the work so that I can take the next day off, or have a super long break that day. This helps for beating both procrastination and a lack of motivation!
Of course, there are days when even these don’t work. On those days when nothing seems to be working, take a break for a while and try again later J If you just keep trying to do work, you’ll just end up feeling guilty and time traveling to 2041 without meaning to.
Ariga, A. and Lleras, A. (2011). Brief and rare mental “breaks” keep you focused: Deactivation and reactivation of task goals preempt vigilance decrements. Cognition, 118(3), pp.439-443.