Many students share that as midterms and finals approach, and during bar prep, they find themselves unusually eager to clean their homes, review and delete old emails, clip their toenails. You get the idea – anything other than studying!
Here are tips if this is your situation:
- Know that procrastination is normal. Lose the self-criticism.
- See some procrastinating as a positive. Sometimes, it does serve a useful purpose – helping re-charge your batteries so that you are all-in when you are studying.
- If your procrastination is paralyzing, rather than positive, seek help from reliable, expert resources.
- Think of an academic goal as a series of finite projects. It is more tempting to avoid something that feels like a huge challenge. Identifying tasks as doable parts of a project makes them more approachable.
- Once you identify the various tasks, ask yourself if any of them feel overwhelming, and see if you can get some help with those pieces of the puzzle.
- List what you tend to do when you procrastinate and schedule specific, limited time slots for those things. Don’t make them guilty pleasures. Make them a controlled part of your day. For example, if you procrastinate with social media, you may find yourself losing many hours. If you know that every day, you have social media “office hours,” you will be less apt to use that as an escape.
- Study first, then take your time “off.”
- Adopt a routine. Being on a schedule will help your body and brain “accept” that you just do particular tasks at certain times. You just do.
- Talk to yourself about how good you feel when you accomplish what you set out to do. And, if it’s helpful, remind yourself how icky it feels when you don’t. Simple example: many people have a habit of never going to sleep with dirty dishes in the sink. No matter how tired they are, they just don’t procrastinate on that one. Why? They find it pleasant to wake to a clean sink and very unpleasant to wake to dirt. They also realize that the task gets more difficult the longer food sticks to dishes. And, they know that a sink for of dirty dishes attracts bugs.
- Articulate why your big goals are important and valuable. And give yourself props for all the hard work you are doing.
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