Midterms coming up? Finals? Here's how to avoid procrastination.... mostly.
As finals season approaches, everyone begins to feel like they have so much to do and not enough time. On top of finals, there are projects, quizzes, clubs, sports, jobs, and so many other things to worry about. As a junior collegiate student-athlete, you might think I’d have this down by now, and truth is I don’t. Honestly, no one does. BUT, no fear, don’t panic-- that’s not why you clicked on this post. I have finally gotten to a place where I can confidently balance my schoolwork with a daily fitness routine, multiple part time jobs, and a social life, while still getting adequate sleep might I add. It’s not easy, and I still find myself procrastinating sometimes, but hopefully my tips and tricks will ease your mind as you enter the daunting task of preparing for finals.
3. Incorporate brain breaks every 20 minutes and a major break every hour- How many times have you tried studying or reading and realized that you didn’t absorb any of the information you’d been reading for the last five minutes? This happens to me all the time and chances are, I had been doing the same assignment for thirty minutes to an hour straight. It’s hard to maintain focus for that long and you start to resent whatever material you’re looking at, lowering your motivation to actually do it and making you more prone to procrastinating. Not to mention the quality of your work or studying won’t be the best. Give yourself a five minute social media/stretch/food break every 20 minutes and you’ll be amazed how much more fresh you’ll feel doing the assignment. Every hour or two, take a longer break. This is where you can incorporate a workout or maybe some social time grabbing a bite with friends. There’s scientific evidence for this. Check out the Pomodoro technique to learn more!
4. Use rewards- This goes along with using breaks, but these rewards would be less frequent. Two or three a week, maybe midweek and over the weekend. Make these new and exciting for you, something that you truly look forward to. Maybe you get dessert from a new place you’ve wanted to try, hang out with a friend you haven’t seen in awhile but makes you super happy, get a mani pedi, play some pickup basketball. At the end of a long day of studying, go mini golfing or have a spa/movie night with your roommates. I can guarantee that hour you spend relieving stress instead of studying will be returned ten-fold. It acts not only as motivation to be productive and get your work done, but also as a wonderful stress reliever so you can go back to your work feeling your best.
5. Find a third space- It can be hard to stay focused either at home or at school. At home, there’s no accountability. You can easily spend hours procrastinating in your room watching Netflix (trust me, I’ve been there---recently…). At school there can be that same comfort and distractions or temptations--- friends, food, chaos. Change it up and find a sweet coffee shop, secluded patio, bookstore. It could honestly still be on campus, but a different spot! Even if it’s just one or two days out of the week, changing it up can help you truly focus on the work at hand. Bring a friend if you need (one that actually has work to do), put on your favorite music, and get in the zone. My personal favorite has been Rekindle Caffe, down the street from our house. Its adorable inside plus they have the BEST treats and friendliest staff. I can sit in there for hours.
Check them out!
6. “Multi-task”- I put this in quotes because I don’t love the term and I know that generally, when you try to do two things at once, one task always suffers. Even though we all say we are great multi-taskers, it must be acknowledged that especially when it comes to assignments, neither one will be as high quality as an assignment done alone. BUT, what I mean by multi-task is to condense activities that can appropriately go together without one suffering. One of the best ways to do this is to do some sort of cardio while studying or reading. Sit on that stationary bike or walk on the treadmill while reading through your study guides. In this case, science has actually supported the idea that easy muscle movement while trying to absorb information actually increases absorption-- and I can testify. Another method I use is to use a social media break to eat as well. I’ll watch a funny YouTube video while eating breakfast or folding laundry. Or if you so please you could do work while eating too, though be careful with this. If you’re eating out of a bag you might get distracted and overdo it.
7. 15 minute power nap- Finally, you may need to take a nap. Sometimes you’re going to get tired. Maybe you just didn’t get enough sleep last night. I am a huge believer in the 15 minute power nap. There is scientific evidence for it but in case you don’t care about that, take my personal testimony that you will feel refreshed, not groggy, and not at all guilty for taking a quick break. Rather than wasting hours sleeping, take an “eye break” and then get right back to it!
Basically, the theme of this article is to NOT i repeat NOT expect yourself to study or do assignments for hours straight. You’ll only end up resenting the work and procrastinating more. Have your schedule in mind and know your priorities, but plan ahead. There’s 24 hours in a day--- plenty of time to get your work done and be a human being with friends and social time as long as you can plan accordingly. These methods have helped me greatly in both high school and college. Even during midterms and finals, I feel like I’m getting the full college experience and you should too. If done right, it’ll be reflected in your grades too.
by Kaitlyn Raymundo