EEK! Finals are only a couple weeks away! Performing great on finals is not impossible and, if you’re behind in a class, a good score can greatly improve your grade. Procrastinating studying is bad and, unfortunately, common. Don’t worry about being a studying perfectionist, but put your time to good use as the semester closes.
Avoid procrastination and save your sanity with these six tips:
- Tell yourself the truth. Excuses are often invalid after you admit why you’re actually procrastinating. Can you really not find a pencil or are you not feeling up to starting homework? There’s never a perfect time to start studying, so start now. Admit when your excuses are justifying procrastination, and realize you can start that assignment sooner than you thought.
- Make a long-term list. Once everything you have to do is in front of you, figure out what needs to get done immediately. Long-term assignments have a tendency to creep up on you when you have the most going on. Finish those pesky writing assignments before you have a week full of tests.
- Begin anywhere. Sometimes I’ll start an assignment in the notes section of my phone. If I have time waiting in line or I get to class early, I will jot down notes or ideas. In addition, starting small with an outline or an introduction can inspire an entire essay. If you have to study for a test, create mobile flashcards by downloading the free Quizlet app.
- Avoid distractions. This tip is obvious but often neglected. I am easily distracted at home. So, when assignments are due or I want to get ahead, I avoid home at all costs. Internet and social media distract! Have your friend hold your phone and change your passwords so you cannot log on.
- Commit to a focus space. Depending on my mood, I’ll either find a table in the library or go to an off-campus Starbucks. However, these may not be the best study spots for you. Find a comfortable place with minimal distractions that works for you and declare that location your focus space. Avoid bringing distractions into this space and only go there for studying.
- Study strategically. There’s a huge difference between being productive and being busy. Trying to focus for ten hours straight is not productive. It can discourage future studying and encourage procrastination. If you have to study for long periods of time, adopt the Pomodoro Method. Study for 20 minutes straight, then take a five minute break. Walk around, stretch, or have a snack. After the break, quiz yourself on what you just studied. If you don’t do well, restudy that material before starting something new. Repeat this four times, then take a 30 minute break.
- Breathe. Finals are the end of the semester, not the end of the world. Take some time to relax your mind and your body for a bit. Get some sleep, try a yoga class at the Campus Recreation Center or a workshop at the Counseling Center, go for a walk or run, or snuggle with your pet. Be happy and stress free.
- Practice Self-Compassion. If you do procrastinate, don’t be too hard on yourself. Procrastination is common, and chances are you’ve survived it before. Studies show that self-criticism is a huge obstacle of productivity. Instead of dwelling on mistakes, be optimistic, and focus on improvement.