This blog post is all about procrastination and making the most of your time at University. But before we get to that let’s have a chat about Uni so far.
By now you should have a good idea of what is expected of you, but coming back after the Christmas break filled to the brim with food and home comforts it can be difficult to settle back into a routine.
If you haven’t double checked your timetable DO IT NOW! Many modules shift around in term two so make sure you are turning up at the right place at the right time. Last year I (very unfortunately) didn’t realise that my timetable had changed so I headed to my 9am on the first Monday back to find a 3rd year media class, in actual fact I had nothing at all on Monday.
The second term will be a little different from the first. You will start to receive grades back from assignments and the dates for final essays and exam dates may be set. This requires a lot of concentration to ensure you don’t miss anything.
So how do you stop procrastinating?
Start with something easy. If you sit yourself down with the assignment brief and simply highlight the key words and what is actually being asked of you, then that is a good start. Maybe you could Google the definitions of words that you don’t quite understand or write your opening statement? Starting with tasks that are easily achievable will set you in good stead to tackle the more difficult elements.
Try and study in a space that you have not previously tried. I found that the main library would stress me out more because there were so many people working and talking around me. I also got distracted by the conversations people would have (does no one respect the silent floor??) which didn’t help at all. Instead I opted for a table in one of the University buildings where I could have a blank slate to get on with my work. A new strange environment can be a good place to get your academic groove on.
Another way to combat procrastination is to set yourself small realistic deadlines. If you have a 3000 word essay don’t sit down, crack your knuckles and say I will do this whole thing tonight. Often you will have 5 to 7 weeks notice prior to the deadline so you can set yourself so many words a week. I often find that if you set yourself say 250 words a week to get done, by having a bare minimum you can still stay on track.
Know your own body clock. If you are one of those people who can’t do early mornings it isn’t wise to plan to wake at 8am and work through to lunch. It would be far better to start mid afternoon and work into the evening (with snack breaks of course.) If you are struggling with timings set out a list of everything that needs doing (homework, assignments, household tasks) and choose one or two from each category to get done in a day. This way you can take breaks by filling your time with other practical tasks. If you really are struggling your University may host study support sessions which could be useful for you.
Find out what works for you. For example, I have friends who work with music blaring out of their speakers, whereas I can’t listen to music because I get myself too hyped up and stop concentrating.
Some other practical tips that might be helpful for you are:
- Power hour
A power hour is a concentrated period of time (I’d start with 10/15 minutes to get used to it) where everything else is shut off apart from your work. Mute that group chat and put your phone in another room. By doing a set amount of time like this you know that once its finished, its finished.
If there is no real reward for completing a task then it can see meaningless. Set yourself an incentive for ticking things off your to do list. Perhaps you could take yourself to the cinema after submitting an assignment, maybe you reward yourself a nap after doing your reading for the week? It’s up to you.
- Study buddy
One way to add some excitement and incentive into your to dos is to have a partner involved. Choose a day in the next week or so that your task needs to be done by and tell your ‘buddy’ that you will get them a coffee/ take them for lunch/ give them £5 etc. if you have not completed the task by your agreed date. If you haven’t finished then you owe them whatever you bet.
Remember If you lose track of time you are probably wasting it.