If you’re a parent, it might be the first time you’ve even heard about this deadline; if you’re a student, you might have been putting things off and now fear that it’s too late. How can we break this cycle of procrastination?
Procrastination often has very little do with laziness or work ethic, though it’s often assumed that these are the root causes. Sometimes, it’s to do with mindset: young people are more inclined to live in the present, putting greater value on what’s happening in the immediate future. This can make planning an issue. It’s also easy to forget all about work as soon as the schoolbag has been dumped on the floor: they’re home now, which is a place removed from the academic pressures of school. Procrastination can easily follow!
However there can be other things at work here, too. For some students, procrastination is a sign of a deeper problem: a fear of not living up to expectations; a fear of failure; a confidence issue; lack of focus or motivation; low energy (which could be linked to a health problem). It could also be that the student is really struggling with the course material but doesn’t want to confront it, so instead they ignore the work entirely.
It can be difficult for parents to know how to tackle problems of procrastination. It can be helpful to enlist some outside support, such as the services of a tutor, to help get to the root causes. If your son or daughter is struggling with a certain subject, one-on-one attention from a tutor can make a huge difference. At Mentor we’re interested in a tutee’s general wellbeing – a happy, confident pupil is more likely to achieve scholastic success, after all – so we would also wish to explore any emotional issues that may be affecting the student’s ability to focus on their work.
Whatever the situation, there are some simple habits you can adopt to break the habit of procrastinating when studying. Here are some top tips for students and parents alike:
The prospect of studying for a big exam or completing a complex bit of coursework can seem really daunting. It’s easy to procrastinate if you simply don’t know where to start! Breaking it down in smaller chunks can make the whole thing more approachable. If it’s a long essay, for example, you could split it into: research; gathering useful quotes; creating an outline; writing the introduction; writing the body text; writing the conclusion; editing; and proofreading. Once you’ve split the work into those component parts, set yourself a rough schedule as to when you wish to work on each part. Having short-term goals – all of which add up to the final, bigger goal – will help you stay on track and make the entire process seem manageable.
It’s very easy to procrastinate if you’re trying to work in a noisy room or if you have Facebook open on your phone! As such, it’s really important to carve out a quiet, distraction-free space in which to complete your work. This can be your safe haven: from the moment you sit down in the space, you should be in ‘work mode’.
It can be fun to create your own special place to study in, too. Think about what might help you feel calm and focused: do you need lots of light? A view, or a blank wall? Somewhere airy or somewhere cosier? Do you prefer silence or music? It’s worth considering these things: the smallest changes can make a big difference to your concentration levels.
We don’t all live in palaces, so it might not be possible for you to take over a whole room – but that doesn’t matter. You can turn a corner of your bedroom into a study oasis: put up posters, clear away clutter, and use your imagination to make it a place that inspires you to work.
If you’re a student, chances are there’s someone else in the class in a similar boat to you: sharing the same deadlines, studying similar topics or modules, etc. Even if they aren’t on the same course, a friend in your year will be experiencing the same pressures when it comes to workload – so why not buddy up? Tell your friend the targets you’ve set yourself and encourage them to do the same, then check in with each other to make sure you stay on track. You can even study together, testing each other or proofreading each other’s work: if you are ‘in it together’, you’re more likely to make use of the time and not procrastinate.
Accountability can be a fantastic motivator, and by sharing your goals with a friend you’re setting up a great support system.
Procrastination is a habit that many students fall into, so don’t despair if this sounds like you (or your son or daughter!). London Home Tutors are here to help. Our blog is regularly updated with lots of study tips, book recommendations and more, and our network of experienced tutors are available if you need more of a helping hand. Don’t hesitate to contact us today to learn more about our services.