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Hello, my name is Clare and I procrastinate.

There, I said it.

In the past, I have been guilty of talking about “overcoming procrastination” and writing about procrastination like it’s something that we can all conquer for once and for all.

Well, I’m getting real about procrastination now.

Let’s face it, procrastination is here to stay. We all do it, and we’ll continue to do it.

The solution for high school students is not overcoming procrastination, it’s doing it less.

Procrastination is as much a part of studying as cram sessions and M&Ms (yum, my study fave).

Once we acknowledge this, and accept that we’re never going to stop procrastinating forever, we can say goodbye to the guilt we experience when we’re watching Netflix, and instead focus our energy on minimizing how much we procrastinate.

Three ways to minimize how much we procrastinate

1. Incentives.

As we discussed here, incentives can really work wonders in helping to mitigate procrastination.

Studying can be tough, and we all need little carrots dangling not too far in front of us to keep us on track (and happy!) as we make our way through the study maze.

Incentives can come in any form (TV, food, an activity, talking to a friend) and frequently. We would recommend having short term incentives (having lunch at the end of this study session) and longer term incentives (after exams I’m going to go away with a couple of friends) in place.

2. Setting small, achievable study targets.

If I was to sit down at my desk to simply study everything I needed to know for my chem exam, I’d probably be on YouTube watching Graham Norton reruns before you could say covalent bond. Save yourself a tonne of anguish, and set small, specific study targets.

For instance, I would break down a morning of study like this: For the first hour I’m going to go over ‘Acids and Bases’, and then I’m going to move on to ‘Organic Chemistry’. After the second hour I’ll be in desperate need of a snack and a distraction to clear my head. Then I’ll head back to my desk and plan out another two hours.

Having a simple plan like this makes studying MUCH less painful and MUCH more manageable, which means – you’re going to procrastinate a lot less. Win.

3. Start with the worst topic.

This is an old technique that people who get stuff done swear by. If you hate studying for math the most, start your study session by getting your math study out of the way.

You know you have to study for math (or whatever your Achilles heal is) at some point, and putting it off is just going to make you feel guilty, and hinder the progress of your study for other subjects. Tear off the band aid and get the dreaded topics done first.

I still employ this technique with tasks that aren’t even study related. When I’ve got a boring life-admin task to do, I try to get it out of the way as quickly as I can, because the relief of getting it done is the BEST! (Similarly, I also like to eat my veges or salad at the beginning of a meal, that way I can focus on the delicious bowl of pasta uninhibited. I know I’m not alone…!)

Doesn’t it feel better to admit it?

None of us are perfect, which means our study is never going to be perfect. You’ll have good days where you feel focused for most of the day and tick off your to-do list like there’s no tomorrow. And you’ll have bad days where you think the torture of exam study will never end and can someone please invent a time travel machine now so you can leave this dimension immediately.

And that’s okay.

Knowing you’re going to have good days and bad days, and that you will always procrastinate to some extent, is going to make you feel way less guilty, and help you realise that we’re all in the same boat. We all procrastinate, that’s a given. But we can control is the amount we procrastinate.

We really hope these tips help you overcome keep your procrastination under control. If you’ve got other strategies for keeping procrastination at bay we’d love to hear about them in the comments below!


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