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Overcoming procrastination

Procrastinating can be a tricky cycle. Knowing there is a task that needs doing… you know the longer you leave it the harder it will be to complete… The more you think about it the more your stomach knots and the more you avoid it.

I personally have been guilty of being a professional procrastinator. When the chapter readings are too long, or I don’t know where to start on an assignment, all of a sudden, I find my self scrolling through Facebook, binge-watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, or sending my partner random TikTok’s. Before I know it, hours have passed and I am no closer to finishing anything I had planned that day.

Procrastination is an ‘avoidance behaviour’ that people often experience when they feel a sense of fear about important tasks. The irony in this is that the more you procrastinate, the ‘scarier’ the tasks can seem. Knowing how to overcome procrastination will allow you to finish tasks in a calm and collected way and help avoid the panic of starting an assignment the day of!

First, it is important to have a to-do list.

Write down everything you need to do, no matter how long or short. Trying to keep things in your head is a sure way to forget at least one thing, which can very easily snowball into forgetting many things. Make sure your tasks are prioritised into most to least important.

TIP: The Eisenhower Matrix can be used as a guide in determining what needs to go at the top of your list. Divided into 4 quadrants, the most important and urgent tasks fall into quadrant 1 and  are to be completed first with the least important and non-urgent tasks given less priority. Remember, this doesn’t just apply to uni work, day to day jobs can also seem overwhelming.

A to-do list will also help in keeping you motivated. I know that for me, ticking one thing off the list is satisfying and makes me determined to get everything done. Remember though, life is a marathon, not a sprint. Don’t try to get a weeks’ worth of work done in one day! Which brings me to my next point…

Time Management.

The easiest way to avoid a mental mountain of work is to know how to use your time. Life gets busy, I know! But sometimes half an hour is all you need to get that last lecture for the week done, and bam, another thing to tick off your to-do list. Setting aside several short study times a day quickly adds up and before you know it, that scary list is getting a little easier to look at…phew!

Knowing how and when to study is also essential in overcoming procrastination.

People will either be visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or writing learners. By knowing which way works best for you will shave off a heaps of study time! When you choose to hit the books also counts! Does your brain work better first thing in the morning, after you’ve had a morning hit of caffeine, or late at night? If you study when your brain is most alert, you are more likely to find it easier to concentrate and get stuff done.

As Student Cribbs pointed out, a mess around you = a mess in your head.

I know I can’t study in a messy room. Sometimes taking 5 minutes to clean your desk, wash the dishes or even simply make your bed is enough to kick your brain into gear and get stuff done!! This also helps in eliminating distractions, which is awesome for concentration.

Finally, sometimes you’ve just gotta do it!

You can have the most organised study space, the most comprehensive to-do list and set your alarm an hour early and still not have the motivation to overcome your procrastination. It happens to the best of us but sometimes you just have to force yourself to sit down. Set a timer for 2 minutes and open a textbook. If after that time you ‘just can’t, you’ll feel good knowing you did 2 minutes more than what you wanted to that day.

Remember, there are so many resources available to you here at UNE. The Academic Skills Office has endless resources to equip you with the skills you need to study and overcome procrastination. CAPS offers a ‘Study Gym’ program which assigns you a ‘personal trainer’ to help boost your confidence, overcome exam anxiety and improve your concentration. As always, Advocacy and Welfare are here to support you and point you in the right direction.