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How to Stop Procrastinating

Published Monday, 02 June, 2014 by Amy Murnan

So, it’s that time of year again - stressful whether you are in your first year or final year, whether you feel prepared or unprepared. Now we're nearing the end of exam season, the summer break is calling and concentraction levels may be waivering. Follow the 5 points below to help you make it through those last few weeks...

Essays and exams are hard. They’re supposed to be – you knew that before you came to University. But there are some ways you can prevent procrastination and, in turn, actually DO your work instead of rushing it all at the last minute. If you’re fed up of chastising yourself for watching yet another video instead of writing your first sentence or reading another chapter, here are some handy life hacks that could get you on your way to becoming a first-class nerd. Or, you know…staying sane.

Break it down

Getting started is often the hardest thing about working on something so daunting and complicated you can barely read the question. But if you break your work down into small, manageable chunks, suddenly everything seems less overwhelming and getting started becomes much easier, giving you less reason to procrastinate. For some tips on how to do this, see this quick guide – it’s a skill that can be used for any project, so learn it now!

Structure your time

Revision schedules are dull, but they do help prevent distractions. Planning how you will get all of your work done can give you piece of mind and, even if you don’t stick to it, you will be able to gauge how far in front or behind you are based on your schedule. Furthermore, if you have planned everything out, you can also plan breaks, relaxation and rewards for yourself, turning procrastination into a part of the revision process itself. See this WikiHow guide to make a timetable yourself, or use this website to make one for you.

Change the scenery

It is all too easy to procrastinate sat on your own in your room, but research shows that when we think someone is watching us, we behave better. Working somewhere quiet but full of people, like a library, park, small café or even just your living room can then help you to stay focused – so long as it’s not loud and distracting.

Listen to the right sounds

Binaural beats are sounds that are at specific frequencies that can do some funky stuff to your brain. They work by stimulating the brain with low-frequency pulsations, and though there is some scepticism about whether gamma binaural beats can help concentration, it’s always worth a try. There are binaural beats available for free on YouTube, but if they don’t float your boat there are plenty of other ways you can use sound to help you concentrate. Some people use white noise, others classical music, but so long as it drowns out those distracting thoughts it doesn’t really matter what you listen to.

Do something else

The optimum time to spend revising is 20-30 minutes, which means you need to take breaks, no matter how close your deadline is, in order to remember all that information. Research has shown that wakeful resting helps your brain to consolidate the information you have just learned, and so simply doing nothing could actually be much more effective than non-stop cramming. If you are really pressed for time, though, try mixing things up so that you don’t get bored – 20 minute on one topic, 20 minutes on the next. This will not only make things more interesting but it will prevent your mind from wandering.

And one more thing – stop reading this article. Good luck!