There have been many moments in every student’s life where they’ve decided to push away their homework and watch TV instead. This is normal, and quite healthy too. But when you have three stacks of homework to get through by tomorrow and you’re doing anything but your homework, that’s when you know there’s a problem. Now, most people would give you points on how to defeat procrastination, but for severe procrastinators, that does not work, as it basically means cutting out a huge chunk of your life and having to dedicate your time to work. So below there are some tips on how to study with severe procrastination.
Link any changes to how often you procrastinate
Have you noticed any changes lately, not just around you, but also in yourself? As you grow older, you may get more pressure from people around you to do ridiculously better, to get those grades which at the moment you can’t reach. A way which most students deal with pressure is putting it off until it finally goes away. But when it doesn’t, and you still feel the need to put it off, it could be linked to anxiety or stress. Anxiety and stress come in many different forms, so just because you aren’t crying or ripping your hair out like the person next to you, it does not mean that you are not affected.
We react in many different ways to changes around us, whether they be long-term or short-term. If before when you were ages away from exams you did some revision, but now that the deadline is coming closer, you procrastinate, it could be stress. Or maybe you realize that you just don’t care and that you have plenty of time to become the lawyer/doctor your parents always want you to be, this could be linked to anxiety.
But it’s not only anxiety or stress which causes us, sudden changes in our environment like moving house or going to a different class can have a strange effect on us. The bottom line is, link any changes to how often you procrastinate and address those changes.
Trick your mind into thinking you’re procrastinating
Do you spend all your time on your laptop, or do you listen to music on your phone? Do you read, or do you draw to pass the time? Identify how you procrastinate, and use this as a way to study. There are different types of learners, different ways in which we can get information into our heads. How we procrastinate is linked to that, because we would much rather spend time doing something that vaguely interests you than doing something which doesn’t at all. Below are ways how to connect your learning to your procrastination.
- If you spend your time being active (e.g. playing sports/video games) then maybe you should change the way to how you study by making it more active. Don’t just sit at a desk and write, get up and about, say your information out loud, or more importantly, teach it to somebody who already knows it. This way you are engaging yourself physically, and therefore mentally, with the work.
- If you spend your time listening to something or watching something, then videos may be the best way to help you. Watching a bright video that will catch your attention and relays information at the same time will really help you. Podcasts may also be a great way to process information too.
- If you draw or read to procrastinate, diagrams will help a lot. Posters and mind-maps with bright colors will definitely help you to store information.
You are doing what you would usually do to waste time, and now you’re studying, but you’ve managed to trick yourself into thinking that you are putting off the stress and anxiety which inevitably comes with revision. You have made revision fun, as cringe worthy as that sounds.
Let yourself procrastinate – but for less time
Do not expect an immediate change in how you study, just because you’re secretly squeezing more studying in. Your brain will get tired, don’t over work it. So when you have to finish an essay, but you really just can’t find the energy to do so, it’s okay to leave it for a while and do whatever it is you do with your free time. Life is not all about studying, don’t be a slave to your education. If you need time off, take it.
With that being said, though, don’t use the “I’m tired” excuse to procrastinate. You are allowed to procrastinate, but that will not make the unfinished essay next to you disappear. Yes, do spend some quality time with yourself, but keep an eye on the time. Doing nothing for about half an hour then starting that essay is great, because you have messed about for a bit, and now have enough energy to do some work.
But don’t sail through your work all at once. Take breaks, and spend time a different way. Talk to somebody, read, draw, play some PS4, then go back to work.
Your life is not some big deadline – don’t turn it into one
People say “set certain times for your breaks and your work” which does not help the severe procrastinator at all. Sometimes you may find that taking a longer break will then help you do more work, or think clearly, or you may be in a better mood.
Just remember, that forcing yourself to follow some timetable might make your studying seem so much more like school, which could bring negative emotions into the mix. Don’t connect your studying to something you hate. For some this does work, setting a time for each revision setting will help, but a severe procrastinator should not do this because as I said before, do not expect an immediate change in how you study. You still need time to unwind, which is why we all procrastinate, but some of us need more time.
Remember that how we work fluctuates. Even the most hard-working students would sometimes rather watch TV then finish work. Do not be disappointed if you didn’t finish all your homework at once, or even half your homework. Focus on how you actually did some work today, and reward yourself with some fun/sleep.
Don’t study traditionally
Most procrastinators sit at a desk with an open textbook in front of them and read line after line. As this is the most traditional way of studying and makes your parents happy when they see you “studying”, you are less likely to put more effort in.
This is linked to tricking yourself into thinking you’re procrastinating. But if you have a looming test, and just cannot afford to procrastinate, changing how you study will help. You are being exposed to a different way of processing information, which will help you. As you are not used to this new form of studying, it will make information much more interesting.
If for someone reason you get the “smart” idea to pull an all-nighter, skip lunch, and study your way into everything, you will become a zombie. If your teachers tell you to study every day, ignore them. The school was different back in the Stone Age, and now it’s ridiculous and incredibly harder. Eat and sleep and repeat. Losing energy will just make it harder to work.