Oh the joys of being a student: exams, essays and excessive word counts that are desperately reached in the run up to finals. Even if you don’t follow the American system so are not, unlike me, ploughing through hoards of work whilst trying to find some christmas spirit through revision playlists, I’m willing to bet you have exams in January and are starting to feel the pressure too. And if you’re not a student? Well feel free to reminisce about long nights spent in the library and the buzz that can only come from a curious mix of adrenaline and coffee at 1am.
We all would like to study successfully. Time managed effectively means that you might actually get to have a social life too, and isn’t that what everyone wants? No one actually enjoys the fear of an impending deadline and an empty screen, really. So what can you do to make sure that you’re up to speed.
Sounds obvious, and yet so few do it. Why is that? Well it’s probably a number of factors but one of those is time inconsistency: we value time in the present more than time in the future, which means we often make decisions on the basis of instant gratification. This means that we put off work because it seems like it will be less difficult in the future, even though we’ll have to deal with it eventually. You never know when inspiration will strike: if you start early and come back to it often you may be surprised to find that suddenly in two glorious hours you’ll achieve far than you could have ever dreamed. Or the opposite may be true, and it’s a struggle from start to finish, but at least you’ll have given yourself the time to do it properly.
Understand Your Procrastination
Procrastination often comes from a place of fear. I don’t know how to answer this question, there is too much information, the tasks seems too huge. But when we understand that fear is driving our desire to watch panda videos rather than settling down to the task at hand we can more easily beat it. When you procrastinate you have two parts of your brain at odds: the rational decision maker and the instant gratification seeker (there is a great cartoon about that here). Don’t let the latter win, even though it takes discipline staying with the work will allow you to have enjoyable leisure time rather than frantically typing or scribbling away later. And if it seems really hard...
Write Anything/Start Anywhere
Beginning can be the hardest part, so just start writing. You can brutally edit later, but I find frequently if I can just start typing something then the words begin to flow more easily. A great way of starting the task at hand with essays or revision is creating a plan: break down the tasks at hand and then start tackling them one by one. It will help, I promise.
If you have exams, good luck; if you don't, I'm jealous!
What do you do to successfully study?