Procrastination – the art of texting, checking Facebook and watching Netflix while you should be working. Whether you’re trying to revise for an upcoming exam, doing coursework or undertaking a particularly tedious job at work, it’s easy to avoid tasks that really need doing.
In fact a study a few years ago found as many as 95% of university students procrastinate especially when doing coursework or their dissertation. In this crunch time for your degree, we give you top tips to stop the craving to do anything other than your work and get you focused on the books.
1. Have a to do list
Each morning work out what you need to do with the day and rank these tasks by their level of importance. Work through the list methodically and get that satisfying feeling when you’re able to tick something off.
Break down every task into small chunks. Each one shouldn’t take too long but should be substantial enough that you feel a sense of accomplishment when you’re done.
2. Reward yourself
When you do complete something on your to do list, make sure you reward yourself. Maybe with biscuits or allowing yourself to check your phone for a minute on small taks, and indulging in a nice meal or watching a film when you complete something more substantial.
3. Enjoy what you do
This can be more difficult when revising for exams but with coursework (and in your future career) you have autonomy when it comes to what you do. Pick a topic you're really interested in and your urges to procrastinate will diminish.
The common phrase ‘do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life’ is maybe a bit optimistic but you get my point.
4. Turn off your phone
You know how important this is. With every social network, the internet, YouTube and a connection to all your mates right there in your pocket, your phone is the ultimate procrastination tool. That’s why you should turn it off when you want to be productive. Even if it’s just for an hour at a time, you’ll see noticeable improvements in your concentration and output.
5. Become accountable
Procrastination is easy at university as no one is there to make sure you’re keeping up with your work. Unlike school or even a job, at university you’re only accountable to yourself. If you’re not good at self-discipline, team up with a friend and mutually keep yourselves motivated. Studying with people doesn’t work for everyone but for many it provides support and encouragement when everything inside you is telling you to have a lazy day.
6. Schedule in plenty of breaks
When you’re planning each day make sure you have plenty of time to do things you enjoy. Not only does this give you something to look forward to but it also means you’ll be more productive when you're at your desk. With many pieces of work or revision, it’s a marathon not a sprint and you don’t want to burn out. On your breaks, make sure you get some fresh air and do regular exercise - the endorphins released will put you in a good frame of mind for your next work session.
7. Don’t overwork yourself
You can’t work every hour of the day. If you do, it’s very unlikely to be your best work. Set out the time you want to work and really throw yourself into it. If you plan to work all day, it won’t take long until you get frustrated and start avoiding the work that needs to be done. Knowing when to stop is also important. Sometimes one hour in the morning can be equally as productive as the three hours you try to do late at night when you’re tired.
8. Be mindful
Fear of failure and nervousness about the task ahead are the main causes of procrastination. You don’t want to think about something you're unsure about doing. And the longer you avoid the task, the more apprehensive you become. Tame your anxiety by starting small and when you start progressing you’ll automatically gain confidence. When you do have doubts, try challenging them and you’ll often find they start sounding irrational, therefore putting your mind at ease.