Procrastination is extremely common. 75% of students consider themselves procrastinators, with 50% doing so regularly. The three most common ways students procrastinate, as I am sure you can guess, are sleeping, social media and watching TV.
Before we talk about how to battle procrastination, you need to firstly understand why procrastination happens. Procrastination, unlike what some people say, is not being lazy, but it can force you to work closer to your deadline and means you have less time to plan, write or even review before submitting a piece of work. This is not ideal! You can also get into a cycle of leaving work to the last minute believing that you work best under pressure and letting yourself procrastinate because you think the work will still come out better if left. But this can contribute to feelings of stress, anxiety and fatigue that you tend to then forget after the work is submitted and repeat all over again when the next deadline comes around. Not to mention the fact that allowing procrastination to take over to purposefully leave things to the last minute can dramatically increase the chances of something going wrong, like getting sick or a laptop problem.
The First Step is Awareness
You need to understand why you are personally procrastinating, because you can’t come up with an effective solution if you don’t really understand the root of the problem. For example, I know I procrastinate when the work isn’t engaging enough because I get bored quickly. Others might procrastinate if they think subconsciously they wouldn’t do well in the exam or essay even if they tried.
The Second Step is Learning Time Management Techniques
While you might assume that making a huge list of things to do or scheduling every minute of your day will be good for procrastination, it can actually force you to be overwhelmed and stressed. Instead, set reasonable goals in a reasonable time frame. Break big tasks down and give yourself flexibility in this time, including breaks!
The Third Step is Staying Motivated
You have to stay motivated for productive reasons. Make sure you are aware of what you want to achieve in whatever work you are doing. Whether you are revising or writing an essay, stay active in your learning material. Prevent just “going through the motions” and instead try and seek out interesting elements to it, explore a theme that takes you by surprise in your topic area and ask yourself questions about what you are learning.
Our 7 Top Tips to Overcome Procrastination:
- Do the task for a few minutes. Starting the task is often the hardest so if you believe its only for a few minutes, or even until your brain losses its alertness, it will be easier to stay on top of your tasks.
- Do the hard or important tasks first. Our body clock ensures that we are often at our most alert at about 10am and then dip towards mid-afternoon. Therefore, complete the harder tasks during the window you have the most energy instead of getting to an energy dip in the afternoon and putting off the task to the next day.
- Manage your environment, including distractions. If you see temptations around you, you are more likely to be distracted by them. So, make sure you are somewhere quiet you can concentrate, and don’t have any distractions lying about – especially your phone!
- Eat Well and Exercise. This is important because it will help your body feel better and work to full capacity. You won’t feel fatigued and sluggish and can get tasks completed quicker.
- Ask for Help. Sometimes people procrastinate when they are unsure of themselves or what they should be focusing on. If you are unsure just ask either your lecturer, personal tutor or even your friends, it will help you get back on track quicker and use your time more effectively.
Battling Job Application Procrastination
Whilst typically students face procrastination when revising and writing essays, as that is what takes up 80% of their day-to-day lives, it can also happen when looking for jobs – especially if you’re having a hard time deciding what you want to do or look for.
Being aware, time managing and staying motivated all relate to battling procrastination in times of job hunting. Also, don’t forget that it might be good to talk to careers consultants at Henley. If you are unsure about what careers your degree can lead into, or you want to know about getting further study relating to a specific job pathway, or even if you’re just struggling with finding what platforms are best to apply for jobs, the careers team are always on hand to help with this. Sometimes all you need is a push in the right direction and you’ll be able to start composing your CV and writing personal Cover Letters for jobs without procrastinating beforehand.