We all procrastinate from time to time. In fact, many of us do it a lot!
To beat procrastination we have to answer the question: ‘what is procrastination and why do we do it?’
Put simply, procrastination is applied anxiety. We procrastinate when we know what we need to do, but we don’t do it. This space, between knowing and doing is where anxiety about the uncompleted task grows.
So, how can students avoid anxiety and the procrastination that comes with it?
#1: Address anxious thoughts
It may sound silly, but simply recognising your anxieties about a task can allow students to push past their stresses and overcome procrastination.
Try it out:
- Grab a piece of paper
- Set a timer for three to five minutes
- Take two deep breaths and write down all of your anxious thoughts
- Once you’ve done that, shut the book, take a deep breath, close your eyes and think of your intrinsic motivator, whether it be self-growth, or a dream job
- Immediately after that, set the timer for ten minutes and start studying
When completing this task, students will often exceed their target study time. With their intrinsic motivator in mind, it’s easy for students to become absorbed in the task.
#2: The Pomodoro method
The Pomodoro method is another way that students can kick procrastination out the door!
The secret is to balance periods of intense study with periods of rest. It’s not effective for students to study for prolonged periods of time. Our brains need time to stop and process what we’ve been doing. Studying for two hours without a break may seem like a good idea to students. However, this strategy is highly ineffective as it doesn’t give us time to process information.
The Pomodoro technique is a study strategy that involves breaking down study into chunks of 30 minutes. For each 30 minute chunk, students should spend 25 minutes studying, and the remaining 5 minutes taking a break. After every four “Pomodoros”, or every 2 hours, students should take a 25 minute break.
The Pomodoro technique is effective because it gives students something to look forward to. Having a break to look forward to increases motivation and makes study seem less daunting. Encourage your child to give it a go!
#3: Take breaks
One of our tutors, Sonya, emphasises the importance of taking breaks while studying to help ditch procrastination.
“I like to encourage my students to study in blocks and find a balance of study and relaxation! For example, set a period of time aside to study. Take away all distractions – turn your phone on flight mode and take the Internet off your laptop, or better yet don’t use it at all! Then set a 30 minute timer for yourself. Work for this period of time then go have a break. Leave the study environment you were in to have a change scenery and a breather.
Going away for 10 minutes allows you to have some reflection time and come back to study with a clear head. Often you’ll look at a question completely differently after having a break from it for a while!”
Procrastination is something that many students believe is an inevitable part of study.
However, procrastination is most definitely avoidable!
Encourage your child to try out the above techniques to ditch distractions and become a more effective studier.