5 Tips to Stop Procrastinating and Start Studying
Procrastination is the act of delaying the completion of an activity or task until the last minute. While it’s a fairly common occurrence, procrastination is generally seen as an undesirable behaviour because of its potential to create negative outcomes. Procrastinating can cause you to miss important deadlines, cause your performance to decline or even incur penalties when you fall behind on your bill payments.
This begs the question, “Why do some people procrastinate?” On some level, procrastination requires a level of self-deception. People understand that they need to complete their tasks as soon as possible, but they make several excuses as to why they don’t need to at that moment.
This makes procrastination a complex decision-making process that requires a comprehensive understanding of why some people allow certain thoughts and habits to negatively affect their workload. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to help you minimise your procrastination. Try using these five tips to successfully complete the requirements of your skills future courses and focus on your studies.
Make Work or Study a Habit
One of the easiest ways to prevent procrastination is to make studying a habit. In the same way you don’t need to actively tell yourself to brush your teeth after you shower, allocating a certain part of your day for work or study will make things easier. You become accustomed to studying or working at specific times, and your brain will most likely adapt to be at its most productive then as well.
If you are a chronic procrastinator, you can start small and only allocate an hour or two for your intended task. Commit yourself to maximising as much of that time as possible and review how you feel afterward. Then you can adjust your schedule accordingly.
Make a List
Some people procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed by the number of tasks they need to do. The feeling of being swamped can trigger a freeze response in individuals, causing them to not accomplish anything due to being inundated with everything. The best way to handle this is to create a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish, along with their respective deadlines.
Setting simple, achievable goals reduces the magnitude of each task, especially if you’ve created a bigger but vague plan in your head. For example, instead of saying, “I will work on my thesis tonight,” you can say, “I will finish one chapter by 9 p.m.” Breaking down your goals this way makes them seem less intimidating and more attainable.
Consider the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro technique is a classic time management method that encourages you to focus on your task for 25 or 40 minutes, then take a five-minute break before getting back to your work. After completing four Pomodoro cycles, you can then take a longer 15-minute break to refresh yourself. The theory is that because you need to focus for a relatively “shorter” period, you trick your brain into thinking that the work is not that hard, causing you to procrastinate less.
Many students use the Pomodoro technique because it allows them to focus more on their studies and reduces the risk of fatigue. It is now being studied for its effectiveness with chronic procrastinators.
Remove or Limit Distractions
Today, it is incredibly easy to get distracted. You may be working on your laptop when you notice your phone lighting up with a message from a friend or a notification that a new episode of your favorite TV show is available. You may think that “it’ll only take a second” to check all notifications before you realize that you’ve spent hours browsing through social media or other non-study-related apps.
It’s a good idea to remove or significantly limit any potential distractions when you are working or studying. Place your phone on silent and keep it facing down. Turn off your television and lock your door if you live with other people. If you’re studying in a cafe or other public space, listen to some music on your noise-cancelling headphones so that you won’t hear chatter.
Make Your Tasks Fun
An emerging theory in procrastination is that people don’t do their tasks on time because they are not enjoyable to the person doing them. Fundamentally, humans want to do things that make them feel good and will delay doing things that make them feel bad.
One recommendation to overcome this is to find a way to make your tasks enjoyable. Maybe give yourself a treat when you’ve achieved a milestone, or turn it into a game wherein you get a point for every chapter you finish reading. When you can find some sort of bliss in the things that you do, you will find yourself procrastinating less and less.
Final Word: Find Internal Motivation
There are many reasons why you may be tempted to procrastinate, but know that you also have the ability to overcome them. It may be incredibly difficult at the beginning, but taking small steps to motivate yourself to study and do your tasks on time will significantly improve your school performance and mental health.
Keep in mind that everyone slips up from time to time, so don’t beat yourself up if you catch yourself procrastinating on a non-essential task. It happens to everyone. What is important is that you reset your focus and go back to what you need to do. With patience and practice, it will become easier for you to stay focused and stop procrastinating.