And how to avoid it
However much you might try to think you make the best use of your time, I’m sure that there’s always some time during the day when you sit there not quite getting on with your work but pretending that you are. As a particularly keen procrastinator, especially when I find the work difficult, here are some of the ways I’ve managed to get through tough revision periods avoiding procrastination.
- Make a timetable with not more than 45 to 90 mins revision sessions at a time. Don’t just write down what subject or module you will be studying, include key details of what particular topic, or which past paper you will do in this time. By micromanaging your time and breaking things down, you will feel more motivated to work as you know exactly what you need to achieve in that time period.
- Take regular productive breaks such as cooking, (writing blog posts), tidying up or doing household chores, going for a run or walk, listening to music, or watching something, as long as it’s a particular episode or movie you have chosen and only watch that (not binging!!!). In the evening when you’re feeling exhausted taking a quick shower or bath can also be the perfect respite. Of course once you’ve finished all your work for the day, then feel free to watch those couple extra episodes you know you want to watch!
- Stay healthy, both mentally and physically. Make sure to get some fresh air everyday, a short walk in your local park or even to the supermarket will leave you feeling refreshed and energised. In addition try to do some other exercise for 2 hours a week, either playing a sporting, going for a run, or even taking a longer walk. Make sure to eat a well balanced diet with not too much self-pity midnight chocolate. Try snacking on frozen grapes, carrot sticks and nuts during the day. Be adventurous and try cooking some meals from scratch, this will also provide some relief from work.
- Separate the space you use for work from where you relax. For example only revise at your desk and then chill in the kitchen and watch Netflix on your bed. This will reinforce your brain for when it’s time to work and when it’s time to relax, so that when you do sit down to start your work for the day you won’t feel like doing anything else and so will get on with your work quickly.
- If you’re stuck, ask for help! Otherwise you will just be left at the same point not knowing how to move forward. Normally your friends on your course or in your classes will be very willing to help you as they know you would return the favour. Also make use of your perusal tutor and lecturers when you get the chance in tutorials and lectures respectively. Getting a correct explanation for something you are stuck on can really set you on the right track to much more productive revision.
- Now this one is a favourite of mine. Bribe yourself with treats. There are two ways this can be done, the first is short term goals where for example you could eat a treat of some kind, maybe a skittle or a smartie for every page you finish or maybe a biscuit for every chapter you finish. On a slightly longer term you could have a nice treat lined up for the end of a long day of work, such as meeting a friend, watching a movie or buying something but make sure you finish all your work before this treat. Having something nice as a reward for work is a positive way to motivate yourself. Having a long term treat for the end of the day also sets a time goal on your work making sure you get it done without too many distractions.
(I won’t lie and will admit that I wrote this blog post when I really should have been revising mechanics, but we’ll call this positive procrastination as at least there is some useful outcome!)