“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 March 31, 2020
How To Break the Procrastination Cycle
How often do you find yourself procrastinating? Do you wish you could procrastinate less? We all know how debilitating procrastination can make us feel, and it seems to be a challenge we all share. Procrastination is one of the biggest hindrances to moving forward and doing the things that we want to in life.
There are many reasons why you might be procrastinating, and sometimes, it is really difficult to pinpoint why. You might be procrastinating because of something related to the past, present, or future (they are all intertwined), or it could be as simple as biological factors. Whatever the reason, most of us follow a cycle when we procrastinate, from the moment we decide to do something to actually getting it done, or in this case, not getting it done.
The Vicious Procrastination Cycle
For some reason, it helps to understand that we all go through the same thing, even though we often feel like the only person in the world who struggles with this. Do you resonate with the cycle below?
1. Feeling Eager and Energized
This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it!
2. Apprehension Starts to Come Up
The beginning stages of optimism are starting to fade. There is still time, but you haven’t done anything yet, and you start to feel uneasy. You realize that you actually have to do something to get it done, and that good intentions are not enough.
3. Still No Action
More time has passed. You still haven’t taken any action and probably have a lot of excuses why. You start to panic a little and wish you had started sooner. Your panic starts to turn into frustration and perhaps even irritability.
4. Flicker of Hope Left
You can still make it; there is a little time left and you ponder how you are going to get it done. The rush you get from leaving your task until the last minute gives you a flicker of hope. There is still time; you can do this!
5. Fading Quickly
Your hope starts to quickly fade as you try desperately to understand why you just can’t do this. You may feel desperate and have thoughts like, “What is wrong with me?” and “Why do I ALWAYS do this?” You feel discouraged, or perhaps angry and resentful at yourself.
6. Vow to Yourself
Once the feeling of anger or disappointment disappears, you most likely swear to yourself that this will never happen again; that this was the last time and next time will be different.
Does this sound like you? Is the next time different? I understand the devastating effect that procrastination has on many lives, and for some, it is a really serious problem. You also have, on the other hand, those who procrastinate but it doesn’t affect them in any way. You know whether it is affecting you or not and whether it undermines your results.
How to Break the Procrastination Cycle
Unless you break the cycle, you will keep reinforcing it!
To break the cycle, you need to change the sequence of events. Here is my suggestion on how you can effectively break the vicious cycle you are in!
1. Feeling Eager and Energized
This is when you commit to taking a new action or getting something done. You are feeling confident and optimistic that, this time round, you will do it! The first stage is always the same.
Thinking alone will not help; you need to plan your actions. I always put my deadlines one or two days in advance because you know Murphy’s Law! Take into consideration everything that you need to do, how long it will take you, and what you will need to get it done, then plan the individual steps.
Just because you planned doesn’t mean that this time is guaranteed to be different. You will most likely still feel the resistance so expect this. This stage is key to identifying why you are procrastinating, so when you feel the resistance, try to identify it immediately.
What is causing you to hesitate in this moment? What do you feel? Write them down if it helps.
4. Confront Those Feelings
Once you have identified what could possibly be holding you back, for example, fear of failure, lack of motivation, etc. You need to work on lessening the resistance.
Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to move forward? What would make it easier?” If you find that you fear something, overcoming that fear is not something that will happen overnight — keep this in mind.
5. Put Results Before Comfort
You need to keep moving forward and put results before comfort. Take action, even if it is only for 10 minutes. The key is to break the cycle and not reinforce it. You have more control that you think.
Repeat steps 3-5 until you achieve what you first set out to do.
Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if you have some deeper underlying reasons why you procrastinate, it may take longer to finally break the cycle.
If procrastination is holding you back in life, it is better to deal with it now than to deal with the negative consequences later on. It is not a question of comfort anymore; it is a question of results. What is more important to you?
Learn more about how to stop procrastinating here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)
Featured photo credit: Luke Chesser via unsplash.com