If you learn how to avoid procrastination your study time will be more effective, and quite frankly, less miserable. I’m speaking from experience here. I wasted so much time faffing around when I should have been studying, and all it did was frustrate me and meant I spent even more time ‘revising’ than I needed to. It was only when I learned more about procrastination and why we do it that I worked out how to stop. This post is basically a firm talking-to, so it might sound a bit harsh, but this is one those times when it’s needed.
Why we procrastinate
Procrastination is a form of stress-relief. If you don’t do the thing that you’re stressed about you don’t need to confront the stress, right? This is why we procrastinate. So when you’re sat there stressing about having to study, you go on the internet instead and avoid the stress of having to study.
Does that make you feel better though? Do you actually feel better knowing that you’ve spent an hour looking at rubbish than if you’d spent an hour making notes? Because I know I never did. Don’t you feel much better when you actually do the work? Because when you do the work you’re actually, really, truly doing something to relieve the stress – you’re preparing for your exams so they’re more likely to go well.
Ok, so doing the work doesn’t make you feel better in the short term. But maybe it does? How many times have you put off starting something and realised that it’s not actually as bad as you thought? More often than not I imagine.
How to avoid procrastination
The key to avoiding procrastination is remembering all this ☝️
The stress your feeling when you try to study isn’t really about the studying itself, its about the pressure of getting the grades you need in the final exams. The reason you put off studying is partly because it can be a bit boring, but partly because you’ll have to learn new material that will challenge you, or you’ll have to do past paper questions that you’re likely to struggle with, and this will make you stress about not doing well in your exams.
But you need to remember that if you don’t do these things, you WILL do poorly in the exams. So, the only way to really relieve the stress is to make yourself do the things that will overcome it in the long term. This means you need to pull your socks up, get off the internet and just do the work. So what if it’s boring, difficult, or just downright horrendous at the time? You need to get on with it (and of course find ways to make it easier and more productive). Keep reminding yourself that any studying you do is going to drive you towards your goal of getting the grades you need, and any faffing around you do when you should be studying is going to push you in the opposite direction.
Applying this to other tasks
You can apply this to procrastination for other reasons, you just need to identify the thing that’s causing you the stress and make sure you do the tasks that relive the stress in the long term, and avoid those that might make you feel better in the short term (debatable) but cause you more problems in the long term. For example, if you’re putting off doing your UCAS application, one cause of stress might be that you don’t know how to write your personal statement. The only way to relieve that stress is to learn how to write a personal statement, so speaking to a teacher or reading the guidance from UCAS will solve this stress. Messing about on Instagram won’t solve the stress, and will mean you have less time to do a decent job with your personal statement when the deadline approaches and the stress gets to the point that you can physically no longer avoid it.
If you’re not convinced
Hopefully reading this has given you a mindset shift, and for me that was enough to make me really think about whether the actions I was taking were having a positive impact on my life. If not and you’re still worried about procrastination, disconnect the internet, put your phone in a phone jail (I used to put mine in the cellar), sit at your desk and set a timer and don’t look up until it goes off.