LearnSkills

Procrastination is that bittersweet friend of yours who dumps you when you need him or her the most. It is not the act of procrastinating per se that is most troubling. Delaying assignments by using Snapchat or watching cat videos is quite enjoyable. It is what happens ‘after’ that leaves us at our wits’ end. It leaves us with more worries, more stress, and more workload. Can this be contained? Yes, of course. Here are a few effective tactics you may use to do so.

1. Break the Bulk

Overwhelming work is a driving force for procrastination. Hence it would be in your best interest to break the workload into smaller components. For example, if you have a large project that needs to be completed, divide your work into sub sections such as Introduction, Topic 1, Topic 2, etc. This way it will be easier to digest how much work you have and you will be far more motivated to complete your tasks.

2. Set Artificial Deadlines

Deadlines help us keep pace. Our working senses get activated when we have a near deadline looming over our heads. Making your own deadlines before the actual deadline is a good way to get you on your feet. But they would be void without incentive. Make a penalty for not following deadlines and reward yourself for completing tasks on time. Make sure to not reward yourself too heavily, for you will get carried away and miss your next deadline.

3. Alternate Your Tasks

Boredom is procrastination’s best source of fuel. Don’t stick to one task as it will soon become tedious and the distractions around you will suddenly become more inviting. Alternating your tasks will keep you focused. I mix dull tasks with enjoyable ones to complete my work faster and more efficiently.

4. Stay in a Conducive Environment

Make sure you’re in an environment that is conducive to completing work. This entails doing work free of distractions. In my own experience, I switch off the Internet modem whenever I have homework to avoid WiFi-related distractions. Having friends who are motivated and supportive also helps. They will push you back on the right track when you feel like quitting. Tell your friends about all of your goals so that you become more accountable to fulfilling them.

How do you tackle procrastination?

Image: Jan Vašek

EducationSkills

Finals are always stressful, especially when they fall right before the winter holiday. That means that while you are preparing for finals, you are also trying to arrange your trip home, pack up your bags, and shop for holiday gifts. It makes sense that on top of all these endless ‘to-dos,’ exams seem like an especially daunting task. Keep these in mind as you prepare for your winter finals…

1. Keep a Clean Work Space

Having an organized desk helps you focus better on the task at hand rather than being distracted by the clutter around you. Take one minute before each study session to throw away trash, organize pens and pencils, and remove unnecessary books or papers that you will not need for the next hour.

2. Time Yourself

Keep track of how much time you spend sitting and staring at a book or screen. It is better to concentrate for smaller increments of time if it helps you stay on track.

3. Keep a Calendar Nearby

Try hanging a poster up on your wall and mark the day finals end with a star or circle. Having a visual countdown could help keep you optimistic and concentrated on the goal!

4. Incentivize

In the world of Netflix/Facebook/Twitter/iTunes, it can be hard to stay focused while studying. To combat these temptations, give yourself small rewards along the way. For example, set a timer for two hours and at the end of that time, reward yourself with a piece of candy, a walk outside, a stretch break, or a phone call with a friend. You can also try a long-term incentive by choosing a larger reward and requiring yourself to study for an hour every day for a month. At the end of the month you are allowed to receive the reward if you have met the requirements.

5. Stay Hydrated and Snack Smartly

These tricks sound too simple to be true but they are the easiest ways to keep alert and awake. While it is easy to grab a bag of chips and a soda, the best way to stay full and hydrated is by eating fruits or veggies and slurping down H20!

6. Work at Your Desk

If you live in a small dorm room, avoid combining your private space with your work space. Do not sit on your bed while doing work, as this leads to distractions and a nap you did not see coming. If you do not have a desk in your room, head over to the library or work at your dining room table. Designating a work space will help keep you on track.

Good luck with your exams!