“I have not yet begun to procrastinate.”
If you’re like most students, studying for an exam is one of the most dreaded, painstaking tasks you could ever be faced with. So, naturally, procrastination is rampant. Here are five things students say to procrastinate, how they rationalize their excuse, what they really mean, and what to do about it.
1. “I’ll start tomorrow.”
Rationalization: “It’s Monday, I have plenty of time to study and the exam isn’t until Thursday…”Advertising
What it actually means: We think that we’ll somehow have more motivation to study later, and naturally want to avoid difficult mental tasks, so we trick ourselves into thinking we know more than we really do, and tell ourselves that we can be prepared for an exam in a lot less time than is really necessary.
What you can do: Start now, even if it’s just for 15 minutes. This will get you over the initial hump, and will quickly provide a more realistic view of how much time it will actually take to prepare. Then, map out the rest of the information that will be covered on the exam, and make a more honest assessment on what time you need to block off for studying.
2. “I don’t have everything I need to get started yet. “
Rationalization: “I’ll wait until I get the study guide or go to the review for the exam.”
What it actually means: We’re overwhelmed by the task at hand and somehow think that our professor giving us an outline, reviewing topics in class, or some other brilliant resource will drop into our laps and make everything easier to understand.Advertising
What you can do: Start with what you have, and add new resources as they come along. This will allow you to get a head start on studying, but will also help you identify gaps in your understanding that you need to figure out later. This also means you can actually take advantage of asking the professor or TA questions during review sessions, rather than mindlessly following along and copying down notes.
3. “I just need to get organized. Then I’ll start studying.”
Rationalization: “I have to do laundry and fold it and neaten my desk anyway, and then once that’s done, I’ll study tomorrow.”
What it actually means: Studying is an extremely energy-intensive mental task, so we like to fill our time with anything else we can convince ourselves is relatively productive instead. We also mistakenly think that if our space is clean, we’ll magically have clarity and motivation, which will help make studying easier.
What you can do: Try changing locations. The urge to get organized is completely understandable, but sometimes there just isn’t time. Go to the library or a common area where you won’t have the urge to tidy up. This may also help to eliminate additional distractions like talking to your roommates or making yourself a midnight snack.Advertising
4. “If I start studying tomorrow morning I’ll be more refreshed and ready to go.”
Rationalization: “I should probably just relax and watch TV and let my brain regroup after a long day of classes.”
What it actually means: You don’t have the energy to get organized and delve into complex topics. You’ve lost the willpower to continue doing difficult tasks and so you make yourself believe you’ll definitely feel better in the morning and can give yourself a pass now.
What you can do: Rather than going to veg in front of the TV, get out and move for a bit. It’s more likely you’ll feel refreshed after an hour of exercise than an hour of television. Then give yourself a time limit and study or get organized for the next day’s plan of attack. You’ll feel better for being active and you’ll feel better having at least gotten a start.
5. “It’s okay, if I bomb this exam, it probably won’t affect my grade too much.”
Rationalization: “If I get an A on everything else, I’ll be totally fine.”Advertising
What it actually means: You don’t believe in or trust in the knowledge you have, so you create an excuse for yourself to lessen the blow. You already know your grade won’t be great so why try to make sense of what you don’t understand.
What you can do: We all know this is a slippery slope. Relying on a perfect score on all the remaining exams and projects is unrealistic for the best of students. So, take the time to brainstorm everything you know about a specific topic on the exam. Don’t look at the book or at your notes, just go from memory. You’ll be surprised at the amount of information you actually have retained, and it will help give you the little boost of confidence you need to start filling in the gaps.
Featured photo credit: Students via blogs.independent.co.uk
Last Updated on September 20, 2018
8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More
You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.
Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.
When you train your brain, you will:
- Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
- Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
- Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.
So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?
1. Work your memory
Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:
When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.
If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.
The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.
Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.
Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.
What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.
For example, say you just met someone new:
“Hi, my name is George”
Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”
Got it? Good.
2. Do something different repeatedly
By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.
Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.
It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.
And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!
But how does this apply to your life right now?
Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.
Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”
Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.
So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?
You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.
That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.
3. Learn something new
It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.
For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).
Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.
You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?
4. Follow a brain training program
The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.
5. Work your body
You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.
Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.
Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.
Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.
6. Spend time with your loved ones
If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life. Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.
If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.
I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.
7. Avoid crossword puzzles
Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.
Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.
Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity
8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included
Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.
When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.
So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!
The bottom line
Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.
Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com