Procrastination is the bane of any aspiring student. College is a whirlwind of distraction and new opportunity and it always seems a good idea to do something other than what you should be focussing on. The issue with college papers is that you’re often presented the assignment many months before it is due in. This is the case for a reason, and one that is often neglected; you’re expected to prepare early.
The majority of students will put work off until nearer to the deadline, misjudging the difficulty of the assignment and the work necessary to complete it to a sufficient level. They underestimate the task and sideline it in favour of more entertaining ventures. Unfortunately, once the deadline draws close most students are overwhelmed with stress and frustration when they realise they are running out of time to finish the work.
There are always the exceptions who are able to finish work last minute with no strain, but you cannot assume that this method is applicable to everyone and this is not a good example to advertise.
In light of the above, how best can you avoid procrastination?
– Manage your time
Create charts, spreadsheets and schedules for your study hours. Decide what topics you want to study and how in depth you intend to research. Ideally you want to cover everything that you have studied during the term at least once, so that you are equipped to deal with the paper. Dedicate more time to the topics you struggle with. These should be fairly broken up and allow for other activity and breaks. Studying in large blocks of time will decrease your focus and you’ll soon find yourself bored with the subject.
– Stick to your schedule
Once you’ve created your study timetable it is essential that you follow it. Study periods should be filled with studying and your breaks should generally not be extended without good reason. Often students find this difficult and lack the self-discipline to maintain their timetables.
– Create reminders
It’s very easy to stray during these breaks and find ourselves browsing online or watching television instead of studying. To help you stay focussed, try downloading free focus-booster softwares. These will issue reminder messages (that you can customise) on your computer at set times with the intention of keeping you focussed. This frequent repetition will ensure that you stay on track with what you should be doing.
– Write down your goals
Take a piece of paper and write a list of the things you want to achieve. Once you have completed this list attach it somewhere that it is going to be seen (i.e a fridge door or notice board), as this should help reinforce why you are studying and motivate you to keep going. Try to imagine what it will feel like when you succeed, and how proud of yourself you will be. It is important to maintain positive thoughts as negative-reinforcement has a low success rate and can damage your self esteem.
– Vary your study methods
Textbook reading may not be for you. There are a range of different study methods available to students nowadays and you should spend some time to find which you find easiest to keep focussed on.
– Work with friends
A common assumption is that it is best to work alone if you want to focus on a project. However you may find it more beneficial for you to work in an environment with other coursemates. This way if one of you becomes derailed you can encourage one another to complete the designated work and keep on track, just make sure your work is your own!
The above are just general tips and examples to remain focussed on your college term papers, but in terms of learning styles, every individual is different and you may find that it takes some time and experimentation to find what works best for you.