I can still remember the time when I had seven exams in a week. And I had an exam every day of that week. Fortunately, there was only one exam for most days, and exams at my university are announced at least one week ahead of time.
So, I devoted myself to living through that week only; completely disregarding every other remaining week of the month. I studied what I could while still having some time off for myself.
I still enjoyed the nightlife my city has to offer. I still dined out with my friends, but I made sure to head home right afterward.
Exams week came. It was a rainy Monday and I was anxious about what this week had to offer me.
Remember what I said about our exams always being announced a week ahead of time? This has been my small comfort until one of my professors made up his mind to announce his exam two days prior. What a guy, right?
That threw off my positive outlook for that week. There it went. I started procrastinating and lost focus on what I was supposed to do. To cut to the chase: I passed three of my exams but failed four of them.
Procrastination became a big problem for me because it decreased my productivity and cut the time that I could've had for studying.
Afterward, of course I realized that I should have spent my time more efficiently. I should have managed my time better.
I'm sure you've procrastinated at least once in your life, and I bet it didn't end well.
The psychology of procrastination
Statistics show that roughly 9 out of 10 students are procrastinators.
Maybe you're just not feeling it or there is some other lame excuse you tell yourself to put off the task at hand. But there's a deeper reason why procrastination eats up the time of 20% of the population.
Procrastination is related to self-control. Experts say that it comes from low self-esteem and anxiety, thus crippling a person's ability to finish a certain task.
Procrastinators believe that they are most productive under pressure. Most of the time, this doesn't work out. Instead, it just becomes increasingly stressful as tasks are often late to complete or just go unfinished.
When given a task, a person must find the will and self-control to finish it. This is a tall order to achieve. They may convince themselves otherwise with "good" excuses, but they are already performing an act of self-sabotage.
A person can start out on track performing excellent work but at some point, they question their success and the plan begins to self-destruct. This can be a familiar pattern until they arrive at a level of mediocrity; a place where they may feel the most comfortable.
Because of their low self-esteem, they think they don't deserve the level of achievement in finishing the task. They lack the self-motivation to push themselves to be productive. Fear of failure and anxiety also start to take over and the completing of the task itself can begin to appear as an undesirable outcome.
How not to be a procrastinator:
Set realistic goals
When you set your mind to a certain goal, you tend to do everything you can to achieve it. In every task you do, establish your goals. This gives you a clear path on what step to take next.
To achieve these goals, a person must be realistic--realistic enough to know that goals will be accomplished one by one.
Track your goals and reward yourself
Every goal is a win. You can track your goals using an online organizer of your own. You can even customize the design of your organizer to your liking.
After finishing these goals, give yourself a little pat on the back. You deserve a reward for what you have accomplished.
Rewards can be any number of things, including good food, a little gift for yourself, etc., but don't forget to give yourself a breather.
Break a large task into small doable chunks
When given a large project, it can be intimidating. However, when handling smaller segments of a large project, the entirety seems more doable.
Break your task into smaller, doable tasks
It's easier and faster to process smaller tasks. It can be fun and motivating checking lots of little tasks off the list.
One task at a time
After you break your task into smaller pieces, you need to move forward one step at a time and these pieces of the whole will be much easier to complete.
You need to focus on one task before starting another one. Multi-tasking can be confusing and quality can suffer. This could lead to further delay in reaching your goal. You don't want anything to throw off your momentum.
Time management tips for students
Know your everyday pattern
The way you live your everyday life is in a pattern. You wake up, eat your breakfast, prepare for school, go home after school, finish your homework, etc.
Note this pattern and understand the things you do within the day. Analyze your activities and think about when you normally do them. You might want to use a time log to track this.
Take note of the times when you are at your best. These are the times that you are alert, creative, and focused.
Also, take note of the times that you are sleepy. You might also want to take note of what activities make you feel sleepy or out of focus.
Schedule your day based on your everyday pattern
Now that you know your pattern, you can schedule your day wisely. If you think this would be difficult, you can use time management apps to help you organize your schedule.
By knowing your everyday pattern, you'll notice when you are most productive. Focus your homework or studying sessions on these times.
Always reserve some time for socializing. This prevents burnout or losing interest in what you are doing. If possible, make a point to have some fun in whatever you're doing.
Time blocking to set a daily routine
Memorizing your schedule takes up a lot of mental activity. Make a schedule that you can easily remember so it can be more of a routine. This time management technique makes you more productive in the long run.
Remember that your schedule is more of a skeleton than a set of rules. Unlike the traditional to-do list, you are in control of your time when you use time blocking.
Set ideal breaks by knowing your body's rhythm
It's fascinating how our body works. It has an internal clock that tells you when you're hungry or sleepy. We call this the Circadian rhythm.
This internal clock of ours may differ from one person to another. Using your everyday pattern and your knowledge of Circadian rhythm, you can set your optimal time to rest from studying.
You want your rest to be in strategic time slots throughout the day. You may want to rest at 8:30 AM because a bowel movement is most likely at that time. A good bathroom break before a long session of studying might be a lifesaver.
Take some time off when you feel that you're working yourself too hard. Sleep researcher, Nathaniel Kleitman, proved that you need 20 minutes of break time after studying for 90 minutes.
These strategic placements differ from person to person. Nonetheless, you have to keep in mind that you need breaks in between study sessions. Make sure that your breaks are put to good use.
Distractions can throw you off your train of thought. Whether it's a social media notification or a text message from a friend, these distractions take away your focus.
That's why it is of paramount importance to eliminate these distractions as soon as you identify them. Figure out what makes you lose your focus during a study session.
For example, some people lose their focus when they are studying in groups while others are more focused and productive when there are people and a little activity around them.
As lovely as it is to look at people walking their dogs in the morning, this can be a source of distraction. You'll want your working area facing a still background to minimize distractions.
Noise can also be a source of distraction. Trust me, you don't want to study in a perfectly silent room. But abrupt noises like the sound of a car racing by can easily steal your attention.
Put on a pair of headphones and find a playlist that you can listen to without getting distracted. I suggest a mellow playlist at low volume.
So at last, you are set to study at your workplace. You suddenly notice that your workplace is a little messy so you decide to take action on it. Of course, this consumes valuable time that was supposed to be dedicated to studying. Keep your workplace neat and tidy so your mind will be at ease.
The fallacy of planning
Underestimating the time it would take to finish a task and overestimating the tasks you can handle make up the planning fallacy.
Planning ahead of time can indeed help you organize your thoughts. Once you make a plan for the day, you don't want anything to mess it up.
Imagine going to school until 4:00 PM. You plan on getting home by 5:00 PM, leaving you plenty of time to study for your exam tomorrow.
Then arrives the unforeseen circumstances. You had to move everything you planned for because of the traffic. You got home by 7:00 PM and you're 2 hours behind on your target plan.
So your schedule will get pushed back. This can be stressful because you'll start to think that you don't have enough time to finish the task.
To avoid this, you must set allowances on your schedule. Remember that your schedule is not a strict set of rules, but a skeleton of what you want to achieve.
Set buffers for your time allotment. Let's say you are putting together an article on a subject with which you're familiar. Set the time allotted for this task to the normal time it would take for you to finish writing an article. But, when faced with an unfamiliar topic, double the time allotment.
Be careful of being too forgiving on your schedule. Keep in mind that work expands for the time allowed for it. This is called Parkinson's Law.
Youtuber Nas Daily explains how unnecessary work eats a lot of your time.
When you are given a lot of time, you tend to expand your work to fill the time allotted, no matter how easy the task. You may opt to take a shower before writing an article when you don't need to take a shower. This is what we're calling "unnecessary work."
Instead of doing something productive like studying, you spend your extra time doing unnecessary work. Parkinson's Law tells us this, and it's a real thing.
Balance in all things
As often as you might be burning the midnight oil, you must keep a smile atop of it. Maintaining a balance between your studies and your social life is important.
Experiencing burnout is a serious matter. It is a state of physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion with your routine.
The #1 cause of burnout is repeated stress in what you're doing. When you are stressed out because of studying, drop your pen and take some time off.
Do something that you love, play some games, spend some time with your friends, and most of all, spend some quality time with yourself. Self-care needs to be a priority if you don't want to burn out.
Balancing your time for study and time for yourself can be challenging but losing passion for your studies can cause lasting harm.
Keep your mental and emotional state in check. Make sure you enjoy what you are doing so you can keep on doing it.
Having a sleep schedule is as important as having short breaks in between your study sessions. Sleeping resets your day and gives you the energy to start a new one.
An adult needs at least 7-8 hours of sleep per day. Many studies show that a lack of sleep results in loss of focus and concentration. This can affect your mood and it can also contribute to memory loss.
Getting enough sleep improves your state of mind. You can make use of your time more effectively if you get an ample amount of sleep every night.
Implementing these time management tips into your daily study habits can increase your productivity. You can optimize these tips by reviewing and reassessing your schedule to find out what will work best for you.
Your goal is to accomplish every task that you have set for yourself without sacrificing quality time in your personal life or with your family and friends.
Tony John is a professional blogger from India, who started his first Weblog in 1998 at Tripod.com. Tony switched to blogging as a passion blended business in the year 2000 and currently operates several popular web properties including IndiaStudyChannel.com, Techulator.com, dotnetspider.com and many more.
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I strongly feel that time is the essence of our lives and only those who can tame this fast-flowing entity can make a place in this competitive world. Students often find that time is not sufficient for preparations of an exam or any test. Unfortunately, they find it only at the fag end of the year when even if one studies for 24 hours nothing happens. Time management is a process which requires foreseeing things at the early stages and doing thing today itself rather than waiting for the last moment to do it. Time and tide wait for none and once time packet has gone in past it becomes a sort of history only that is of no consequence to us. So preparing well in advance is the main thing that I always advise to the students who are seeking to attempt the entrance examinations and cut-throat competitions. We are today living in an era where long-range thinking and perspective is to be built rather than myopic vision. Making big goals and targets are alright but it requires commensurate preparations well ahead in time.
Students are generally not much aware of the importance of time as they also think that they should have some time for playing with their friends and also for attending to their hobbies which are so interesting and fulfilling for them. There are so many distractions today in the world that even if they are attracted to one of them then it is sufficient to eat away a good part of the time available with them. Now parents and teachers have this responsibility to enlighten them about the importance of time and insist that they should use this precious time for converting their dreams to reality. All the students would not be self driven in this regard and we have to make them to go along the correct path of utilising time effectively.
Time is precious for everyone. Those who understand the value of time can get success in life. Nowadays, everywhere competition is very hard. So, there is a great need to fix a time schedule for every work. As students enjoy their life, very few of them understand the value of time. All students either senior should make a plan related to time management. It is an essential step for getting success in life. I think parents and teachers should take responsibility in this regard as a student is generally inexperienced in life. Their elders can show the path to them.
A person who manages his time well will progress well in his life. This is a fact proved beyond doubt. This important point is not well understood by many students during their studies. The students postpone their studies till the last moment and in that process as the examinations come nearer they will get pressurized.
Another important factor is the level of understanding. All students will not be equal in this. Some students may require a little more time to understand the subject. Based on their real-time experience one should make a programme. A student will know his own abilities. So he should not get influenced by other students who may be fast learners. He has to make his plan in such a way that he will cover all the topics well before the examinations and have peace of mind.
Last time hurry should always be avoided. Many students I have seen will sit and study throughout the night one day before the examination. This is a very bad practice and they should have proper sleep during the examination time. That will make them active and their mind will be sharp and give them full support in faring the examinations well. Don't postpone the issues until the last moment. This is the point one should follow always.