How to Combat Study Procrastination
You’re having a busy week at work, the family is taking up all your time, there’s so much housework to be done, or you’re not feeling 100%. Procrastination has a strange way of creeping up on you and it often doesn’t take much to completely derail your good study intentions. When it’s a momentary block, that’s one thing. But if the procrastination regularly stretches out beyond a day or two, it can become a real problem.
An MBA, and in particular an online MBA, requires determination, resilience and autonomy. For those juggling work and family life with full-time study, a well-planned schedule is a must. There’s no room for procrastination. So, when procrastination does take hold, it’s important to be able to identify it and stop it in its tracks.
We explore some strategies students can implement to prevent procrastinating habits from forming and ways to kick it to the curb when it hits. If you’re a procrastinator, read on!
Schedule smart and include contingencies
If your study plan is inflexible, unforgiving or unrealistic, rather than motivating you to work harder, the pressure to deliver can lead to procrastination. A study plan should serve you, but you shouldn’t be a slave to it. Schedule study sessions in at times of the day you’re most productive. If you are a morning person, schedule an hour in every morning. If you’re an evening person, set aside time in the evening. Ensure your schedule is realistic and takes into account all your other priorities, including family time, relaxation and exercise. Allow contingencies so it’s not disastrous when things don’t go to plan, and always allow ample time in the lead up to assessment deadlines.
Manage your study conditions
Don’t underestimate the power of a decent study area! Adequate lighting, minimal interruptions, appropriate resources and a comfortable chair are musts. Set your study space up physically so that it is a place you like to be in, and you can trick your mind into thinking that sitting down to do a bit of study is a pleasant experience. Without a comfortable and distraction-free study space, you are at greater risk of impeded productivity and procrastination.
If you study at home, ensure you set study boundaries for your family and ask they respect this time. If that’s not always possible, try a public library or quiet meeting room at work after hours when you’re under the pump. To minimise the temptation to procrastinate, limit technology and other possible distractors to those required for the study session, and leave your phone in another room.
Also read: 6 Ways to Improve Your Work Space
Regularly reflect on why you’re studying
Why are you studying? Is it to get a promotion at work, leapfrog into a new career or update your skills for the next era of work? Going into a course of study with a goal or goals in mind will be critical when your study motivation is flagging and procrastination creeps in. Write your goals down and put them somewhere you will see every day. As you achieve each milestone of your degree, reward yourself, reflect on your accomplishments so far and acknowledge that you’re one step closer to achieving your big goals.
Also read: How to Set and Stick to Your Study Goals
Get a study buddy or join a group
A study buddy will do wonders for your motivation and productivity. Not only will you have someone to work through the course with and bounce ideas off, but you’ll have a responsibility to keep up with them and the pace of study too. If you don’t know anyone else studying the course, tap into your education providers online communities to join or form study groups. AIB students can browse and join the many groups for this purpose.
If you’re more of a lone ranger, choose a family member, friend or colleague who can help to keep you accountable. Communicate to them your study schedule, deadlines and goals, and turn to them when you’re losing motivation and could use a pep talk.
Break it down
Often, when we are daunted or overwhelmed by a task, it can be difficult to know how to get started. Instead of digging in, we become frustrated and procrastinate. Rather than focusing on doing the assignment tonight, sit down for just half an hour or so and go over your notes to come up with a plan. Then, as you gain momentum, attempt the first task, followed by the second, and so on. The smaller and less daunting the tasks are, the less likely you’ll be to procrastinate getting it done.
Martin Luther King Jr once said, “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
A little study is better than none
You’ve likely heard this sentiment in relation to exercise, and it’s 100% relevant to study too – a little study is better than none at all. Rather than procrastinating your readings because you only have a small amount of free time, for example, use the time you do have effectively. While it may not allow for the most in-depth study session, it can help to break down the barriers associated with starting something and lessen the chance of procrastinating next time around.
Be persistent, but patient
Breaking a bad habit can be difficult and can take some time. Don’t expect to go from champion procrastinator to model student overnight. Find the strategies that seem to work best for you and practice them regularly. Notice and reward small improvements in your productivity to positively reinforce your actions.
Have you had success with breaking procrastinating habits? We’d love to from you! Comment to share your study productivity tips.