Let’s face it: we’ve all experienced the dangerous effects of procrastination – whether you are a student or a working adult, many of us put our tasks to the last minute in the hopes that we will end up working better under pressure.
But more often than not, this plan backfires on us. Scrambling to finish a piece of homework on the train or starting on that research paper the night before it is due sounds all too familiar. In fact, research has told us that we all procrastinate, and that some more than others, due to genetic reasons. (refer to: http://time.com/51883/procrastination-is-in-your-genes/) While this might seem like a good chance for us to make excuses from ourselves, it barely detracts from the pressing need to deal with this omnipotent foe, in order to maximize our productivity in work and in life.
Having been in an IP school for six years, this writer has witnessed an abundance of cases of academically-inclined students who suffer from the problems of procrastination. The social stereotype that elite students always have perfect studying habits is far from accurate.
Procrastination mercilessly prevents any individual from reaching his or her full potential. Anyone of us would know that snowballing work is a painful and difficult cycle to break out of.
If you have read on this far, chances are that you are probably interested in finding a panacea. But the truth is, it doesn’t exist. While it may be tempting to declare a grand plan that eliminates procrastination for good, it is more realistic to incorporate little habits into your daily life that will shape your studying habits for the better. Here are some tips that will hopefully help you become a more productive student.
Find your reason to study.
What keeps you going? When the nitty-grittiness of life temporarily blinds you, you may give in to procrastination and shut off your eyes to the larger goal. But ask yourself, what are you really working for?
Everybody has a reason to study – for some, it is to make themselves proud and to prove that they can succeed in each stage in life. For others, it may be to prove themselves to others. There are also those who may need to do so for more practical reasons, such as getting good grades to help the family out financially in the future.
Whatever your reason may be, when you feel daunted by the mundaneness of everyday tasks, it is important to remember your bigger purpose in order for you to constantly feel empowered and motivated.
Allow yourself a fixed amount of social media time.
Clicking that login button on Facebook or Instagram app and spending entire afternoons trawling through the abysses of the site instead of completing your homework is something that we all fall prey to.
Instead of making the regret that comes afterwards a daily experience, set a strict rule for yourself to only check social media X number of times a day, and only for a certain duration each time. If you find it hard to adhere to the quota, you can alternatively consider rewarding yourself with 5 minutes of screen time for every 30 minutes of work (vary as necessary).
In the meantime, eliminate all other distractions during the time that you have strictly allocated for work, e.g. by turning off notifications.
Be strict with yourself about this!
Now is always the right time.
Very often, the hardest part about dealing with procrastination is in getting yourself to start on the task. Mentally, we already view the task as something unconquerable – like a mountain that we feel too dejected to climb. Sometimes, we even refuse to start on the task simply because we already feel that we have wasted too much time.
But this cycle is vicious. The more you put off the task, the more trouble you will cause yourself later. Simply put, if you do not start on the task now, your future self will be beating yourself up over why you didn’t start right then.
This is especially so if you are tackling something complicated, like a research paper or a project. It is way easier to break the tasks down into smaller ones and start right away, like “read five research articles today”, instead of just writing in your to-do list: “start on the research today”. It also applies for improving in a language, or starting exam revision, or just about anything else.
Just keep your tasks simple. Thereafter, tell yourself: now is always the right time.
If you are here, it means that you are actively seeking change. Be strong and be tough with yourself, and if you monitor your habits closely enough, pretty soon you might discover change in your work habits.
You may fall back into little unproductive bouts every now and then, but what is most important is to continue marching on and to tell yourself that you are strong enough to sacrifice and pursue what you really want.
With that, here’s wishing our readers all the best in their studies and endeavours!