|Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week. |
Do you tend to put assignments or research off till the last minute?
Do you always end up cramming for exams at 2am?
Do you wonder how it is that other people manage to get to class on time, with all reading and homework done, and still look like they've managed to sleep?
Do you identify with this poster?
If any of these sound familiar... you may be suffering from PROCRASTINATION
It's a common student disorder affecting up to 37% of students which, if left to run unchecked, may result in missed assignments, low grades, stress and the feeling that you'll never make it.
Don't suffer in silence! Speak out! (Or at least continue reading!)
So, let's start thinking.
Why do you procrastinate?
Is it because you don't like
You wanted to get more sleep/time
with your friends?
The subject overwhelms
There's nowhere suitable
You don't feel like
You don't know how
You just have problems getting started
So what's the cure?
Let's start with the basics. To work effectively, you need a good study area. The actual area varies for most people - some people can only concentrate at a desk, other people work better sitting on their bed, in the library, or using a quiet corner in the local café.
What's your study area? You should have somewhere you use consistently. Don't keep switching around, because you'll never get used to the idea that Place X is for Work.
Now you've found your study area, have a look at it. Is it organized? Do you have access to everything you need (books, dictionary, internet, highlighters, note paper, etc.)?
Are there any problems? Do you have a roommate who talks to you or plays music? Is the TV always on and distracting you? Is it too warm or cool? Is the lighting too bright or too dim? Are you too comfortable? (This sounds odd, but chairs that are *too* comfy encourage resting rather than working. You don't need to perch on a hard barstool, but don't kid yourself that you can work just as well lying on your bed in dim light.)
Do you have a routine? Do you always put aside Thursday afternoons for studying? Have you told your friends this, so they know not to bother you?
|You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. |
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Look at what needs to be done. Have you started it at all? Is there anything you've already covered? The first step is often the hardest. Even writing the title on a piece of paper and jotting down some random thoughts about the topic may be enough to break the barrier.
If you don't like the topic, and it's an elective - drop it. (If it's a required course you're stuck with it.) Transfer to something else that holds your interest. If you've procrastinated too long, and you can't drop or transfer, you'll have to take that course. And rather than failing through lack of work, you might as well do the best you can. So start a session working on something you like. Do something that's a fun course for you for a little while, then switch to your less-preferred work once you're in the swing of things. Then reward yourself with a treat afterwards - make some cookies, meet your friends, go to Starbucks... whatever you want.
Admit that you won't always feel like studying. You probably don't often feel like cleaning your room, doing the laundry or taking out the garbage... but some things just have to be done regardless. It's usually not as bad as you think.
If you're REALLY not in the mood to study - too easily distracted, feeling very stressed, can't concentrate - then take a break. No more than an hour, but do something fun or relaxing. Then go back and try to study.
Don't expect perfection the first time. Accept that there are some subjects you're better at, and acknowledge that in others you might not get an A. Don't feel too disappointed if your first term paper gets handed back with lots of
corrections suggestions from the instructor. No-one expects you to get it right first time around. (Yes, there's always ONE person in each class who manages it. If that's you, you don't really need this page.) Read the comments carefully, make sure you understand them - and the reason why - and incorporate the suggestions in your next paper. If you're not sure about something, or you genuinely disagree with the mark you got, speak to the instructor.
If you're not sure how to start studying, your academic advisor can help you. We also have some online resources for you which cover the major areas of memory techniques, how to take notes, and tips for successful test-taking.
|I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. |
|Recognize the problem||I'm procrastinating again!|
|Figure out why you're putting it off||The library's too quiet/my dorm room's too noisy||There's too much to do, I'll never manage it|
|Think about those reasons - is there something there you can change?||I can study somewhere else||Actually, when I look at it, I can break this task down into smaller section|
|Change something||I'll move to the coffee shop/the library||If I do one bit a day, it won't take too long and I'll still get it done in plenty of time|
Don't beat yourself up if you find it hard to break this habit. It probably took a long time developing, and won't vanish overnight.
And no-one else can make you do this - university is about adult independence. You have to learn to be self-reliant and self-disciplined. Sometimes (and this is hard) you'll have to miss a party to finish a paper or do some research.
IT DOES PAY OFF IN THE LONG RUN.
- Enlist a friend to motivate you/act as study buddy
- Promise yourself a treat if you get it done in time
- Keep your study area tidy so you don't get distracted with cleaning/looking for a pen/finding your desk
- PLAN to do it
- Just start... Work for 15 minutes. Then give yourself a break
See? It's not that hard! Good luck!