Whether it’s baking, gaming, YouTube videos or the sudden need to clean the house from top to bottom, the average university student is likely to tell you that they are guilty of some form of procrastination. And while it may seem preferable to watch a whole series of reruns rather than start that assignment at the time, experience has taught me that excessive procrastination leads to a whole lot of unnecessary stress. So, in an attempt to help you dodge some of my mistakes I’ve put together some tips about how to avoid the evil lures of procrastination. While this post mainly focuses upon essay writing (the major form of assessment in my degree), these tips could also be adapted to other forms of assessment.
JUST START! There’s nothing more daunting than a blank page. I find that often the easiest way to begin an assessment piece is simply to read through the criteria and jot down any important points – word limits, minimum resources, specific points to address. When you have an understanding about what the assessment requires of you, it’s easier to think about what you want to write.
PLAN IT: Some students have the enviable ability of being able to sit down and write a whole essay. Unfortunately, I am not one of those people and I find it incredibly difficult to write without first considering the direction I want to take. For me, creating a plan is an integral aspect of successful studying. I use a plan as a flexible guide for what I want to write, and this can be adapted and added to at any point. Planning comes in many forms, from visual diagrams to more structured outlines. I personally have an unexplainable aversion to mind maps and tend to lean towards basic dot-points; I generally begin by jotting down the major points I will write about and expanding upon these as I research. Below are some examples of planning methods that you may find useful.
START EARLY: I know it sounds cliché, but seriously, begin your assessment as soon as possible! An assessment item seems far less daunting when you have weeks to pull it apart and tackle small aspects at a time, and from my experience, less pressure equals a lower chance of resorting to procrastination.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK: Some days, even despite my best efforts to start early and plan my assignment I just can’t get that light bulb of inspiration to click, and it’s at times like this that a little procrastination can be a good thing (everything in moderation people!) – go and bake some cookies or watch an episode of your favourite drama. Sometimes a little time away does wonders, it not only relieves stress, but often also provides a little bit of perspective and (if you’re lucky) some inspiration.
I will finish off my list of tips in my next post, but in the meantime, I would love to hear from you: how do you procrastinate?