‘Just a quick episode’ of your favourite show has turned into a full-on Netflix binge. Close the screen and step away from your laptop. This is not helping you to conquer your weekly reading.
Procrastination will try its best to find a way into your study time, but you can fight back. Here are a few tips on time management and tactics you can use to beat procrastination.
1. Turn the tables on procrastination
Procrasti-cooking, procrasti-baking, procrasti-cleaning – we’re all guilty of it! Suddenly all those chores you usually dread become really important. So important, in fact, you have to stop studying immediately and take action to get them done.
Your brain’s prioritisation skills are to blame for this behaviour. But don’t worry, you can turn the tables on this mental trick.
Make a ‘To Do’ list, placing chores and projects with flexible deadlines at the top. Then, place your study task somewhere near the middle. Once you’ve ticked off a few ‘top priority’ tasks, your study or assignment will seem much more achievable. It’s called productive procrastination, and it sure is weird, but apparently it works.
2. Hide your phone
Phones – we know they’re a distraction. That’s why we put them on silent and leave them face down on the desk while we study. But research has shown this isn’t enough.
A study by The Consumer in a Connected World, and described in The Harvard Business Review, found having your phone within arm’s reach or even within sight ultimately leads to distraction. Keep your phone in another room if you can while you study, or tucked safely at the bottom of your bag.
3. Don’t multitask
Yes, you read that right. While multitasking can make us feel pretty productive, it actually has the opposite effect.
Multitasking involves switching from one task to another an back again. The time it takes to switch from one thought process to another is time wasted. Time blocking could be the answer for you, rather than jumping all over the place.
4. Have a realistic plan – and stick to it
Feel like you’re wandering aimlessly through your study without a map? It’s time to make a plan. The key to getting through big tasks without becoming overwhelmed is to break them down into clearly defined small tasks. This approach is Project Management 101 and university is a good time to master it, because you’ll definitely need this skill in the workplace.
Make sure not to over-commit yourself when making your plan. Be realistic about what you can achieve in a set time-frame, or procrastination will start creeping back in.
Which brings us to the next point…
5. Take regular breaks
You may be thinking: how will taking regular breaks help me get work done? It’s all about working smarter, not for longer.
Regular breaks refresh your brain and rest your body, which in turn boost productivity. The average brain is only able to focus for about 90 minutes before needing a rest. So, be mindful of when you mind starts to wander and your concentrate wanes, and Take. Time. Out.