Well, would you look at that! Finals are coming up. I guess it’s time for everyone to grab their coffees and stake out their spot in the library. However, as we all know, sometimes studying for finals is the last thing we actually end up doing. I mean, there’s always something about this time of year that makes you want to catch up on some shut-eye, inspires endless Facebook checks to see if the world is still turning without your presence, or finally pushes you to start that TV series you never felt motivated to begin. That’s right. This time of year is when procrastination reaches an all-time high. After all, who wants to voluntarily put their life on hold for a week? I sure don’t. In my world, an open Facebook and YouTube browser are necessary for, well, effective studying. Nevertheless, since your professor is not one who accepts the “I was busy” excuse when it comes to grading your exam, it’s wise to have strategies to keep such “busyness” at a minimum. Here are three such strategies to help you begin your anti-procrastinating campaign.
A good way to stay on track is to change your studying from solitary to group. So take down your door barricade, wait the necessary minutes as you adjust to the piercing sunlight, and find some friends to study with. Also, make sure these friends won’t be more of a hindrance than a help. We all know that there are certain people who, if we try to study with them, will end up talking about the relevance of “The Lion King “in alien invasion theories. As interesting as this discussion may sound, this is not productive. To prevent such happenings, make sure you choose study partners who are fun to work with, yet focused on the task at hand. Even if you don’t study well with others, working in an environment where everyone is devoted to studying fosters the mindset you need to concentrate better.
Besides group studying, keeping track of your “to-do” list is always a good idea. Often, goals put on paper seem much less stressful than goals just left to free-float in your brain. Also, you can make your list in whatever way suits your style. Personally, I’m a fan of writing out my list in pencil on paper or Post-it notes. I feel that this is a much more tangible way to keep track of my studying and see how far I am progressing. Plus, using a list can simply make you feel better about getting things done. There is a surprising amount of satisfaction gained from erasing items off your list or even performing the grand gesture of tearing the finished note to shreds (after all, it had it coming).
As a final suggestion, plan your procrastination. “What?!?” you may be thinking “But procrastination is exactly what I don’t want!” Calm down. Despite how much any of us would like to disagree, none of us are robots. Every now and then, you need to provide your brain with a chance to wind down and relax. In fact, constant studying is not as nearly effective as taking a mental break every 60 minutes or so. This break time actually increases how well the information you study is retained in your brain. However, this selective procrastination doesn’t mean checking Brad Pitt’s Twitter feed or posting “Finals are killing me!” statuses. Plan to do something active that will allow your brain to keep chugging along without necessarily thinking about studying. Taking time to talk with friends, play Frisbee, or just go to the gym are all decent options. So be responsible and plan out when you will procrastinate. By doing so, you will be less inclined to take unplanned study breaks and you will retain more of the information that you’ll need for your exam.
Staying focused is hard. Especially when studying for finals. Still, victory is not impossible for those who are determined. Yes, it will be difficult. Yes, you will mess up. But if you commit to following these outlined suggestions, you’d be surprised how little a role procrastination will play in your life. So, as you prepare for your week of hitting the books, begin your anti-procrastination campaign now. Go on out and find your focused study group, write out a realistic to-do list, and plan some quality study breaks. And please, stay off Facebook. You’ll thank me later.
Powell is a member of the class of 2016.