Whether you need to study for an exam or a test studying can feel like the last thing that you want to do. And that makes you feel anxious. But the harder you tell yourself that you must do it the more you seem to do something else.
There always seems to be something else that seems more important. Or you sit down and start studying and your mind goes blank or you get distracted and go on to divert to another task. This is procrastination.
What is procrastination
Procrastination is delaying or postponing something. But when you need to study that doesn’t help because the test or exam is getting nearer.
It’s not laziness. But it is about time-wasting.
Procrastination is about avoidance and denial. It’s common and regularly seen with people who need to study. It’s linked to motivational theory and the pleasure principals. Procrastination is an activity that happens in the prefrontal cortex, a part of the brain that involves attention.
But one study by Abramowski (2010) found that not all procrastination is bad as it can give you time to think and pay attention to important ideas. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10852352.2016.1198168?src=recsys&journalCode=wpic20
People don’t intentionally procrastinate.
Why do we procrastinate?
We usually procrastinate because we are perfectionists and want to have high standards. Also if you are suffering from stress and anxiety or other health issues it makes it harder to focus on what you need to do.
How can we reduce procrastination and anxiety?
The main way to take control of the situation is to relax, prepare and ask for help if needed. if you have low mood and have been feeling anxious for more than a few weeks you should see your doctor for a check-up.
Here are some tips.
25 ways to make studying easier
- Aim high but also accept that it will take time
- Make a plan or study timetable
- Get a balance between study time and relaxation
- Understand how you learn best and use a variety of ways to study
- Stretch before studying
- Listen to relaxing music
- Consider your environment. Is it too messy, noisy and do you feel comfortable there?
- Take notes as you study
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Get a good routine with plenty of sleep
- Practice with old exam papers
- Get a study buddy and discuss the work together
- Find creative ways to remember. E.g. draw the answer.
- Recap about an hour before you go to bed and make a few bullet points so you get the information on paper and out of your head to sleep
- Use pneumonics
- Understand that studying is about quality, not quantity
- Practice relaxation. E.g. Mindfulness, meditation, self-hypnosis, sport, dance, yoga etc.
- Use coloured pens to highlight key concepts
- Teach someone else the things you need to remember
- Take 10 mins in the day to recap what you have learnt so far
- Find an incentive
- Imagine what success looks like
- Use the Pomodormo method for timing study i.e. study for 25 mins have a 5 min break then study for 25 mins again. Set a timer so you know how long you have been studying. Remember to have meal breaks.
- Keep a clear mind- don’t drink alcohol or drink lots of coffee when studying
- Ask for help if you need it
Where can I get help to study?
The first step is always to discuss any difficulties with your teacher. Schools, colleges and universities all know about the anxieties and struggles that students have that results in procrastination.
Talk to other students, family and friends.
Get psychological help from a counsellor or hypnotherapist. It’s not weak to ask for help, in fact, it’s a sensible thing to do.
Awaken the Change provides online and face to face help for stress, anxiety and procrastination.