|Find a place where you can minimise distractions. If this isn't possible at home, consider the uni library or your local library.
||Make sure you have enough space, light, and quiet.
||Switch off your phone (or put it on silent) and avoid social media while you study.
|Find time for any other items you want or need to factor into your schedule.
||Don't forget eating and exercise - along with plenty of sleep, a sensible diet and exercise are important for your health and well-being.
||Remember to make time for catching up with friends, or just watching TV and relaxing.
|You may not study in exactly the same way as your friends or siblings, so you should find a routine that suits you. Many students seek advice from counsellors about how to plan a routine that suits them and their schedules.
||Include milestones such as holidays, assignment due dates and exams in your schedule as soon as you can.
||Create your study timetable around these dates so you give yourself time to study.
|Most successful students say it helps to divide work into small pieces rather than one large chunk, so it feels achievable.
||Spread the tasks out so that your study is varied between simple and challenging tasks.
||Set yourself achievable weekly goals and try to stick to them.
||If something unexpected happens and you don't achieve what you had planned, revise your timetable and get back on track as soon as possible.
It can be a good idea to set up a study plan to keep track of what you need to do and when to do it. Some great ways to do this is by using a
Content from SACE
Dealing with stress and anxiety
Dealing with stress and anxiety can be extremely tiring and hard to handle. You might find yourself struggling to cope with your work load, or there might be other things on your mind that make it hard to focus and achieve a good balanace between studying and free time.
Here are some tips for dealing with stress and anxiety that you might find helpful. You also have the option to contact any of the phone numbers further down on the page, including Student Care and Student Life Counselling Support that provide in-person counselling support.
|Make sure you get enough sleep.
Not getting enough sleep impairs academic performance and makes it harder to get through the day.
Research has shown that positive thinking may improve physical well-being, produce lower feelings of depression and produce lower levels of distress.
|Have a stress outlet.
This could be a social activity like going out or participating in sports, finding a hobby or joining a social club.
|Engage in relaxation techniques.
This can include things like slowly counting to ten, meditation, thinking positive thoughts, visualization or playing with a stress ball.
|Talk to someone.
Sometimes just talking about what's stressful or having someone listen to your problems can drastically reduce stress.
Content from Learn Psychology
How to stop procrastinating
Step 1: Recognize That You're Procrastinating
You might be putting off a task because you've had to re-prioritize your workload. If you're briefly delaying an important task for a genuinely good reason, then you aren't necessarily procrastinating. However, if you start to put things off indefinitely, or switch focus because you want to avoid doing something, then you probably are. You may also be procrastinating if you:
- fill your day with low-priority tasks.
- leave an item on your To-Do list for a long time, even though it's important.
- read emails several times over without making a decision on what to do with them.
- start a high-priority task and then go off to make a coffee.
- fill your time with unimportant tasks that other people ask you to do, instead of getting on with the important tasks already on your list.
- wait to be in the "right mood," or wait for the "right time" to tackle a task.
Step 2: Work Out WHY You're Procrastinating
You need to understand the reasons why you are procrastinating before you can begin to tackle it. For instance, are you avoiding a particular task because you find it boring or unpleasant? If so, take steps to get it out of the way quickly, so that you can focus on the tasks you find more enjoyable.
Poor organization can lead to procrastination. Organized people successfully overcome it because they use prioritized to-do lists and create effective schedules. These tools help you to organize your tasks by priority and deadline.
Even if you're organized, you can still feel overwhelmed by a task. Perhaps you have doubts about your ability and are worried about failing, so you put it off and seek comfort in doing work that you know that you're capable of completing. Some people fear success as much as failure. They think that success will lead to them being swamped with requests to take on more tasks.
Surprisingly, perfectionists are often procrastinators. Often, they'd rather avoid doing a task that they don't feel they have the skills to do, than do it imperfectly.
Another major cause of procrastination is poor decision-making. If you can't decide what to do, you'll likely put off taking action in case you do the wrong thing.
For some people, procrastination is more than a bad habit; it's a sign of an underlying health issue. For example, ADHD, OCD, anxiety, and depression are associated with procrastination. Also, research suggests that procrastination can be a cause of serious stress and illness. So, if you suffer from chronic or debilitating procrastination, one of these conditions could be to blame, and you should seek the advice of a trained professional.
Step 3: Adopt Anti-Procrastination Strategies
Procrastination is a habit – a deeply ingrained pattern of behavior. This means that you probably can't break it overnight. Habits only stop being habits when you avoid practicing them, so try as many of the strategies below as possible to give yourself the best possible chance of succeeding.
- Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past. Studies show that self-forgiveness can help you to feel more positive about yourself and reduce the likelihood of procrastination in the future.
- Commit to the task. Focus on doing, not avoiding. Write down the tasks that you need to complete, and specify a time for doing them. This will help you to proactively tackle your work.
- Promise yourself a reward. If you complete a difficult task on time, reward yourself with a treat, such as a slice of cake or a coffee from your favorite coffee shop. And make sure you notice how good it feels to finish things!
- Ask someone to check up on you. Peer pressure works! This is the principle behind self-help groups. If you don't have anyone to ask, an online tool such as Procraster can help you to self-monitor.
- Act as you go. Tackle tasks as soon as they arise, rather than letting them build up over another day.
- Rephrase your internal dialog. The phrases "need to" and "have to," for example, imply that you have no choice in what you do. This can make you feel disempowered and might even result in self-sabotage. However, saying, "I choose to," implies that you own a project, and can make you feel more in control of your workload.
- Minimize distractions. Turn off your email and social media, and avoid sitting anywhere near a television while you work!
- Aim to "eat an elephant beetle" first thing, every day! Get those tasks that you find least pleasant out of the way early. This will give you the rest of the day to concentrate on work that you find more enjoyable.
An alternative approach is to embrace "the art of delay
". Research shows that "active procrastination" – that is, deliberately delaying getting started on something so you can focus on other urgent tasks – can make you feel more challenged and motivated to get things done. This strategy can work particularly well if you are someone who thrives under pressure. However, if you do decide to actively procrastinate, be sure to avoid putting your peers under any unnecessary, unpleasant and unwanted pressure!
If you're procrastinating because you find a task unpleasant, try to focus on the "long game
". Research shows that impulsive people are more likely to procrastinate because they are focused on short-term gain. Combat this by identifying the long-term benefits of completing the task.
Another way to make a task more enjoyable is to identify the unpleasant consequences of avoiding it. For instance, what will happen if you don't complete the work? How might it affect your personal, team or organizational goals?
At the same time, it can be useful to reframe the task by looking at its meaning and relevance. This will increase its value to you and make your work more worthwhile. It's also important to acknowledge that we can often overestimate the unpleasantness of a task. So give it a try! You may find that it's not as bad as you thought, after all!
If you procrastinate because you're disorganized, here are six strategies to help you get organized
- Keep a To-Do List. This will prevent you from "conveniently" forgetting about those unpleasant or overwhelming tasks.
- Prioritize your To-Do List using Eisenhower's Urgent/Important Principle. This will enable you to quickly identify the activities that you should focus on, as well as the ones you can ignore.
- Become a master of scheduling and project planning. If you have a big project or multiple projects on the go and you don't know where to start, these tools can help you to plan your time effectively, and reduce your stress levels.
- Tackle the hardest tasks at your peak times. Do you work better in the morning or the afternoon? Identify when you're most effective, and do the tasks that you find most difficult at these times.
- Set yourself time-bound goals. Setting yourself specific deadlines to complete tasks will keep you on track to achieve your goals, and will mean that you have no time for procrastination!
Content from Mind Tools