Does it happen to you sometimes that you make a firm decision to study consistently but do not stick to it and procrastinate instead? You end up with a pile of deadlines and a catastrophic lack of sleep, will, and time to deliver good work. And when the assignment is finally submitted, you make a promise to yourself to do it differently next time. Magically, the same cycle repeats in the future.
We have good news: you are not the only one. Procrastination is a common problem for all people, especially given the number of distractions we have nowadays. Whether we like it or not, social media, games, and TV-shows are in a constant fight for our attention. The algorithm of your favorite Instagram is built in a way that makes it almost impossible to stop scrolling the feed when you really need to do something else.
So how do you get through this? Here are some tips that will change your mindset.
The difference between daydreaming and setting actual goals is that for the second one, you need to plan. If you have the feeling that your dreams never come true, it is high time to ground and transform your dream into a goal. A goal implies defining some clear steps towards its achievement. If you divide your dream into small steps that do not take much time to take them daily, your dream becomes a realistic goal.
Entering a college, many students dream of having interesting courses and think they will master all of them to a level of perfection. However, this is not always needed for your professional success in the future.
Decide which subjects you want to attach more attention to as early as possible. Calculate how many assignments and tests will be due simultaneously and roughly evaluate the time you will have to spend on them.
Then, plan in detail. For example, I have a History course that has four 10-page readings per month and a detailed rhetorical analysis outline due in November. Then I will devote 30 minutes 2 times a week to read 5 pages and an additional half an hour in October to work on my analysis outline. Let it be, for example, 30 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. It doesn’t sound so awful as compared to reading 40 pages in one day just before the test, does it?
You can definitely eat an elephant, but remember – it is only possible if you eat one bite at a time.
Your environment plays a more important role in your studying than you could ever think. Try listening to a lecture at the desk, and try doing the same while in bed wearing your favorite PJs. The second option may sound more comfortable, but I guarantee you that you will have trouble concentrating and will not retain much of the information shared during the lecture. Not to mention that in such conditions, you are very likely to fall asleep.
Comfort at your desk is important, but also keep all of the distractions out of your sight, if possible. A study has proved that having a cluttered space makes you feel overwhelmed and leads to procrastination: messy workspace, messy headspace.
The same applies to the noises around you. Your mind switches focus to every loud sound trying to understand its source, most times unconsciously. Then the brain has a hard time switching attention back to your task, and, as a result, your attention span decreases, and you feel tired more quickly.
The most common mistake of all first-year students is that they concentrate on their studies but forget about the rest. It is essential that you include some activities that refresh your mind after long study hours and that you leave some time slots for absolutely nothing.
Idle days seem to be non-productive, but, in fact, our body and mind need to spend some time doing nothing in order to digest tons of information and settle.
Another great idea is to plan several breaks every hour or two during the days of intensive studying.
Many people find it difficult to stay passive for some time because we live in a fast-paced environment. However, the specialists advise that we make an effort to relax regularly to avoid health issues and emotional burnout.
Whatever your goal is, remember that your well-being should always come first. Every now and then, check on yourself to see if you need some rest, food, or some leisure time with your friends. Don’t be hard on yourself if your day doesn’t go strictly as you planned. Your goals should not be reached at the expense of your physical or mental health. Modern times require that we stay flexible and find a proper balance.