How to beat Procrastination!
I’ve been putting off writing this article, I really have! But I stared procrastination straight in the face and beat it.
As many of us start to approach study and exam time our “inner critic” may be starting to creep in, telling you, “I won’t be ready” or “I’m going to fail.” This invariably will slow down your progress and may even put you off starting your studies at all. But there is a quick three-step formula in order to set yourself up to tackle procrastination.
- Do less. Think about Pareto’s famous 80/20 rule, where 20% of our efforts in any particular endeavour is responsible for 80% of our results. What does this mean practically? It means that our exams are now our priority. Delegate what you can to family members and friends in order to lighten the burden on yourself, enabling you to focus on your studies, efficiently and effectively.
- Disconnect. We live in an age of continuous distraction where it’s virtually impossible to remain focused on our revision without being tempted by Facebook, Twitter etc. Do yourself a favour, avoid all temptation, switch off your phones, tablets and PCs and assess the task at hand.
- Be aware of the present moment. “You can’t escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today” – Abraham Lincoln.
Once set up and in the correct mind-set, these are some practical tips to actually beat procrastination:
- What’s actually going on with you? Exactly why have you been procrastinating? Are you afraid of something? Do you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Ask yourself “I’m avoiding this task because…” Once you know more you will be able to tackle it.
- Most people put way too much on their “To Do” list. Try crossing things from your list simply because you now realise that you don’t need to do that thing…ever! This will free up precious study time.
- As above, the key to beating procrastination is to focus. Start by choosing just ONE thing that you’ve been procrastinating about regarding your studies and exam prep and make a commitment to focus and complete it to the best of your abilities. That first step is difficult, but once you get going – your mood improves dramatically.
- Schedule your revision timetable, make sure it’s realistic and stick to it. Setting realistic goals keeps things positive, which keeps you in the right mood to work. Adopting the correct mindset and putting a revision plan in place are perhaps the most important things you can do!
- Ask yourself; “What action can I take in less than 15 minutes today that moves this forward even the tiniest bit?” Once you’ve identified a small action, set a timer for 15 minutes and spend 15 minutes working on the task. Research shows that once you start something, you’re much more likely to finish it, even if it’s longer than 15 minutes, which studying for exams definitely is! Small action is still action and it is still a start! 15 minutes can make all the difference – This is one of the best techniques for people who struggle with procrastination.
- Wake up an hour earlier – have a “Power Hour”. Get in that extra one hour of study while the world still sleeps, especially when you are more fresh and alert in order to harness the optimal performance of your brain and body.
- If you’re at work, can you cram in 30 minutes of study time during your lunch break?
- Have a procrastination power song – pick a song that really gets you energised and play it just before you want to study something you’ve been procrastinating about. The brain likes to have a trigger to create a new habit, plus you’re more likely to follow through when you’re feeling good in your body. My power song was “Photograph” by Def Leppard.
- One fun way to tackle procrastination is to have a bet with a friend. Give your friend a date and time and tell them in order to give/ receive the agreed upon prize, they must check in with you at that appointed day and time. If you haven’t completed your task by then…you owe them whatever you bet!
- Another way to motivate yourself to complete a task is to create a reward that you will give yourself once it’s been completed. What can you treat yourself to once you’ve finished this section of studying? How will you reward yourself once you have passed the exams? Just think of how great it’s going to feel once you pass your exams and how much worse you’ll feel if you wait until the last minute and don’t give it your best effort.
So, you need to pull everything together for the final push, be efficient in your study sessions, sweat a little more over the next few days and get the exam technique perfected… it will all be worth it come exam time.
You are never alone – remember to connect with me and I will guide you with my experience and continual support.