Last week we brought you 4 Simple Strategies to Kick Procrastination to the Curb & Maximize Your Study and here are four MORE!
Compartmentalize Tasks to Make Them Less Daunting
My mother used to remind me not to “make a mountain out of a molehill”. Basically, this means that you shouldn’t try and make a little problem into something big.
However, making a molehill of a mountain can be extremely useful – especially when it comes to studying.
One of the most powerful strategies for beating procrastination (and this advice doesn’t just apply to study) is to compartmentalize tasks you need to complete.
You might find yourself procrastinating study because no matter where you turn, everything seems too big to conquer.
From that big physics textbook you need to read, through to the screeds of English notes you’ve got to get on top of … does it ever end?
But by breaking down your study tasks to their lowest common denominator and compartmentalizing them, you’ll make molehills of those mountains.
Say you’ve got a big essay to write by Monday morning:
Instead of putting it off because it’s too daunting, break that sucker down into a bunch of smaller parts. Tackle the brainstorming and research first; that’ll only take you an hour. Treat each of the main topic points as a separate piece of work, and reward yourself with a break after successfully completing each one. Finally, you’re left with writing the conclusion and doing any proofreading and editing.
Block Yourself From Distractions
If you find yourself procrastinating your studies, then it’s important that you look at the possibility that everyday distractions are getting in the way of you being productive.
I’m talking about things like:
- Constantly checking Facebook or Twitter
- Browsing online shopping sites or message boards
- Replying to and composing text messages every few minutes
- Checking your phone for notifications
- Chatting to friends in your college or school library
- Watching cat videos on YouTube
All these distractions are entertaining and a great way to pass the time … but they form the bread and butter of procrastination for many students (and I’m sure you’ll be able to think of plenty of examples where you’ve been distracted by what I just listed).
If you want to quit procrastinating your study, and become more effective with your time, then you need to eliminate distractions from your daily routine.
How you go about this will depend on exactly what it is that is distracting you and causing you to procrastinate.
For web-based distractions (which, my experience tells me, are some of the most problematic for students such as yourself) one of the most effective solutions you can employ is the use of site blocking tools.
I personally use a free Google chrome plugin called StayFocusd – and I’m sure that no matter what device type or browser you use, you’ll be able to find something that suits you.
Anyway, site blocking apps and plugins serve a common purpose: They allow you to set a time limit for how long you can spend on certain sites on any given day. And once you’ve used up your time allocation you’ll be blocked from browsing those sites until the following day.
Depending on the exact tool you use, there could be different functionality or options. What’s important is that the site blocker allows you to add a bunch of different websites to a blacklist, and then set a maximum time limit (I recommend 30 minutes max daily).
The onus at this stage is on you to be ruthlessly honest when it comes to blacklisting the sites that waste your time. If it’s distracting you at all from your studies, then put it on the list.
If other things are distracting you, then you need to find workable solutions to eliminate them.
For example, if you’re studying in library and people keep coming up to your workspace and interrupting you, then try moving away to a more secluded spot. If this isn’t possible, then another solution is to don a pair of headphones (preferably noise-canceling ones). These automatically make you look busy, and will put others off from interrupting you.
Basically, you need to deploy some good, old-fashioned common sense, and work out how to eliminate the distractions that are causing you to procrastinate.
Tweak Lifestyle Factors
Another common cause of procrastination (especially among college-age students) is having an unhealthy lifestyle.
This can actually be made worse during exam periods, where it’s common practice to cram your body full of energy drinks, snacks, and fast food – and ignore sleep and exercise – in order to make it through the ordeal.
Unfortunately, an unhealthy lifestyle makes procrastination worse. The reason for this is very simple: If you lack energy, due to the lifestyle you have, then it becomes more difficult to take action and force yourself to do challenging things (such as study). In this “void” procrastination becomes an appealing alternative.
So to kick procrastination to the curb, you need to take steps to tweak and improve your lifestyle factors.
Now I’m not going to claim to be the fount of all health knowledge – but people I’ve coached have reported a great deal of success following these simple guidelines:
- Ensure you are getting adequate sleep. Many students have a habit of staying up late at night on their phones or computers; if this sounds like you, make a vow to go to bed at an earlier time each night. If this isn’t possible, then try and cram in a 30 minute nap every day.
- Reduce the amount of processed and junk foods in your diet. Aim to base the bulk of your diet on fresh vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean cuts of meat and fish. Junk foods that are high in sugar and unhealthy fats can lead to rollercoaster energy levels – not good news for your focus and drive to study.
- Exercise regularly. A simple 30 minutes’ worth of cardio-intensive exercise on a daily basis will do wonders for your energy levels. You don’t need to slave away for hours in the gym each night; a little bit of exercise will suffice in improving your energy levels.
- Look into energy and focus boosting supplements. Your local health food store will be able to offer you advice on what best suits your needs, but be aware of snake oil products. Do your research first.
I’ve given you some basic ideas above, but I recommend taking the time to do more research and find a combination of diet, exercise, and sleep that works well for your needs.
There are more blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts on the Internet about leading a healthy lifestyle than you could shake a stick at. Have a quick Google and you’ll find all the info you could ever want or need!
Overcome The Fear Of Failure
One of the most common causes of procrastination in students is an underlying fear of failure. It’s a fear that tells your mind no matter what, you will fail the exam or assignment you need to complete.
This subconscious fear of failure leads to procrastination, because by putting off your study you are able to delay “facing up” to what you don’t know, or the course material that you struggle with.
However this approach will catch up with you in the end – probably when you sit down in the exam room and take a look at your paper … and realize that you don’t really know what you’re talking about!
But how can you overcome a fear of failing at your study and/or exams, and kick the procrastination that comes with it?
Firstly, you need to go into your studies, exams, and assignments having prepared well for them. I once had a history teacher whose mantra was “Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance” (or what he called his ‘Five P’s philosophy’).
My history teacher was right – proper preparation does prevent poor performance. It also prevents procrastination by giving you confidence in your own ability to complete tasks and get work done.
When you are adequately prepared for your study, you are far less likely to procrastinate it. So make sure you have all the resources and equipment you need to study. Get out the right books from the library, purchase the stationery you need to take notes, and find a secluded spot where you won’t be interrupted.
Of course the biggest benefit of preparing properly for your study actually comes at exam time; you’ll get better grades, because your study was more productive and effective.
So the first step to overcoming the fear of failure that causes procrastination is to prepare properly. Now it’s time to rewire the way you think, for a knockout one-two combo.
If you are procrastinating your study because you’re worried that you’ll fail, this probably comes down to a fear of what others will think about you. It’s only natural to self-doubt, and worry that if your studies don’t go as planned and you don’t do well in your exams, then others will think of you as a failure.
This fear of a negative social impact is extremely powerful, and can cause severe procrastination.
Therefore, you need to break out of your current mindset. Instead of fearing the social consequences of failing at your studies (and procrastinating because of this fear) you should come to the realization that 99% of people will praise you if they can see you put in a good effort.
As long as you dedicate yourself to your study and work diligently, even if you don’t get the marks you were hoping for, those around you will most likely be congratulatory. Your friends, family, and teachers will praise you for the amount of effort you put into your study.
Once you accept this, you will find yourself in a much better headspace to study. You’ll no longer want to procrastinate, as you won’t worry so much about what others might think of you.
To recap, I’ve shared eight of the most effective strategies you can use to overcome procrastination and maximize the benefit of your study.
Now it’s up to you to put in the hard yards, and get the work done! You’ve got the ability to be a productive studier – and by overcoming procrastination you will be able to complete so much more work.
About the author: James Frankton
James Frankton blogs about time management and motivation at his site www.whyamilazy.com - take a look for more well-researched advice on beating procrastination and managing your time more effectively.