Procrastination, the silent assassin of success

In an ideal world, more time at home would mean more time to study. But we can all recognise we’re not living in an ideal world right now! With the shutdown weighing on everyone’s minds, it seems far easier to get distracted and procrastinate. At MyLaTrobe, we’ve put together a few strategies you can put into action to combat the age-old enemy of success: procrastination.

1. Identify why you’re procrastinating

Obviously you’re procrastinating because you’re not feeling quite ready to tackle your weekly readings or that assignment, but if you drill down a little deeper into the ‘why’ you might find a more constructive answer.

Perhaps you’re procrastinating because it seems like a mammoth task and you don’t know where to start? Or perhaps you’re stuck on something and feel like it’s holding you back? Whatever the reason, find out exactly why you feel like you’re reluctant to study and make a plan to overcome it. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed by an assignment and don’t know where to start, you could check out the assessment criteria and start using each section to structure your assignment.

2. Set goals and tasks

This is great to do at the start of Semester, but even if that ship has sailed, it’s never too late! Set goals for what you want to achieve each in subject. What kind of mark do you hope to achieve? How many classes are you aiming to attend? Map it all out and then start on a plan for how you’re going to achieve your goals. Make sure your goals are S.M.A.R.T., write them down and remind yourself what you wanted to achieve throughout the Semester, considering frequently if you need to make adjustments.

How to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and get those tasks done!

Ever feel like you’re wandering aimlessly through your study, not sure where to start or how best to use your time? What you need is a plan that will map your path out of study limbo and set you on track for success.

3. Commit to a study plan

Create a realistic study plan for all your subjects, factoring in lectures, tutes, seminars, group work time, readings, assessments and general study and research time. Use your calendar on your phone, an app, or a diary to plan out what a realistic study schedule looks like for you – and stick to it! That said, if something really isn’t working, then adjust your plan. A plan will allow you to set boundaries for friends, family and housemates too if they know your study schedule. Remember to break up your assessments into tasks well in advance of the due date. Here’s an example of tasks you may want to consider for an assignment:

TaskTask checklist
Plan and analyse assignmentUnderstand your topic
What do you know already?
What do you need to know?
Seek assistance from the lecturer
Choose appropriate keywords from your topic to begin searching
Contact your Peer learning advisers and get study help from successful La Trobe students
Contact library staff for further help – Frequently asked questionsLibChat, or in person at the service desk at your campus library
Research and gather resourcesUse keywords to Search Databases Journals or Catalogue on the Library homepage
You can also use keywords to search Google Scholar
Select relevant items from search results
Locate items in the library or download items
Read and take notes
Write down the source of information for your bibliography
Contact your Peer learning advisers and get study help from successful La Trobe students
Contact library staff for further help – Frequently asked questionsLibChat, or in person at the service desk at your campus library
Write your first draftWrite your first draft
Get online help with writing at university
Remember to avoid plagiarism
Write your introduction and conclusion
Gather aadditional research as necessaryIdentify gaps in your argument or points that require evidence to support
Gather additional information as necessary
Contact your Peer learning advisers and get study help from successful La Trobe students
Contact library staff for further help – Frequently asked questionsLibChat, or in person at the service desk at your campus library
Revise and write your next draftsRewrite further drafts towards final draft
Upload your assignment for feedback using the University’s free Studiosity service
Online help with editing and proof reading
Check references – collate, order and style
Further help with referencing for further help
Undertake a final proofCheck formatting, student details, submission requirements from the faculty
Submit your assignmentUpload your final assignment online well before the deadline to avoid last minute stress or WiFi dramas

8 reasons why attending online classes will get you a better grade

There’s no doubt about it, if you attend all your lectures and tutorials you’ll do better at Uni. Online tutorials and lectures lay the foundations for a strong performance in your assessments.

4. Find a method that works for you

There are plenty of methods out there to help you get things done. Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of International Relations student Hammad Shahin recommends using the Pomodoro Technique, a time management tip developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. He finds it difficult to concentrate for long study sessions, so he’s found this method to be really helpful. Essentially, what you do is:

  • Decide on a task that needs to be completed, such as a draft for an essay that is coming up.
  • Then you set a timer for a specific period of time (generally 25 minutes, but can be modified to be 50 minutes).
  • Next, you work on the task, making sure to not let anything distract you, to achieve deep focus. To aid with this, Hammad uses an app that prevents him from going on any social media and only allows him to go on his phone to use tools such as the calculator.
  • Lastly, end your work when the timer rings and take a short break (five minutes if you do 25-minute blocks or 10 minutes if you do 50-minute sessions like me) and then repeat steps 2 through 4, three or four times. After this, you can take a longer break where you might eat something, go for a walk or watch a movie.

A tip to take this to the next level is perhaps to Zoom your friends and complete the Pomodoro sessions together. You can make a rule that no one can talk until the set period of time that you choose finishes. Then you get the chance to chat during the 10-minute break. This has helped my friends and I stay on track and be accountable to each other. It also helps replicate the feeling of studying together in-person.

student Hammad Shahin

5. Get help if you’re stuck

If you’re stuck, don’t sit around and wait for a solution to magically appear – ask for help! There are several free services for La Trobe students to help with everything from writing your essay through to managing your time and workload. The best part? They’re all available online! Get feedback on your essay and live chat with experts via the University’s free Studiosity service – it’s the envy of a lot of other students from other Unis. The Library also has a host of services online including the Learning Hubs, Peer Learning Advisers and Librarians.

Studiosity – free online assignment help and live chat for La Trobe students

92% of students say they feel more confident after using Studiosity. Never heard of Studiosity? Commit the name to memory immediately and learn where to find it in the LMS. It’s online help with experts who can help answer your questions, provide feedback and tips for your assignments and mor

6. 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.

7. Hold yourself accountable

It’s all well and good to make a study plan, but it’s another thing entirely to actually stick to it. Check in with yourself and track your progress. If you didn’t do as well as you would have hoped in previous subjects, identify the reasons and make sure you aren’t making the same mistakes this Semester.

Need help with classwork and assignments? Here’s where to find Learning Support while studying online

Week Four means we’re really in the thick of Semester now. It’s about now that those first assignments are starting to weigh more and more on students’ minds. If they’re giving you a headache, then make sure you get some help to ease the study pain.

8. Plan breaks and rewards

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 concentration wanes. Plan breaks in advance if you can, and use them as a reward for progressing through your tasks.

9. Don’t multitask

Yes, you read that right. While multitasking can make us feel pretty productive, it actually has the opposite effect. Research increasingly shows that multitasking negatively affects and reduces productivity, and instead mindfulness is the key.

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.

That’s what SHE said blog: Staying on task with online study

The ‘That’s what SHE said’ blog is written by SHE College student Mel. As an intern for the college of SHE and a Peer Learning Advisor, Mel is passionate about sharing ideas and highlighting the services available to you in order to make Uni life just a little easier.

10. Prioritise sleep

Some may be able to get by on a few hours sleep, but in the end the recommendation is around eight. Sleep helps the brain function properly – without it, you may have trouble making decisions and solving problem, and you’ll be more likely to procrastinate. To get a better night sleep, it’ll help if you go easy on the caffeine and alcohol – listen to your body.

If your mind is buzzing at bedtime or your stress levels are keeping you up, chat with someone about what’s on your mind. La Trobe’s counselling service is free for all students.

We’re here for you – Student Wellbeing Services available online and by phone

We acknowledged that it is a very uncertain time for everyone. Please be aware that Student Wellbeing Services, including Counselling Services, are currently open and available to support you. Make an appointment for Counselling, Disability Advisor or wellbeing support. If you have any concer