Slumps – we all go through them. Professional athletes go on cold streaks, authors get writer’s block, and musicians can hit a creative wall. For seniors who haven’t taken a break from being students for the past 12 years, burning out is a real problem that many students face at some point in their academic careers. Whether you’re in high school, college, graduate school, or already working, losing focus and motivation can seriously impact your work output and your personal outlook. Here are a few ways to avoid that hollow, distracted feeling before you spiral into the death grip of procrastination.
Have a Plan of Attack
Creating a plan to follow beforehand can help focus and drive immensely. By giving yourself goals to complete, you’re most likely going to increase your motivation to finish. Some people use visual cues, such as to-do lists, study schedules, or a list of materials, to really help mentally prepare them for the study challenges ahead. Sometimes, studying smart is the best way to stave off procrastination.
Find Your Spot
Location is key when you’re studying. While it’s important to relax, a lot of people fall victim to actually being too relaxed. It’s important not to study in an environment that’s conducive to sleep or distraction (e.g., many students don’t study in their rooms or on their beds, since they’re only used to relaxing and sleeping in that environment). Aside from the library, quiet coffee shops or bookstores can be great places to increase focus and get work done.
Break It Off
Creating a mountain of work can sometimes be too daunting to start. If you know you have an exam coming up, start studying earlier. Breaking up your studying into more manageable pieces can help ease the burden and give you smaller tasks to accomplish. Getting on a roll and gaining momentum by finishing those smaller assignments can help you mentally avoid procrastination. Also, smaller tasks can help you study specific materials at specific times instead of frantically trying to study everything at once
Separating your studies from your hobbies can cut down on distractions and time spent working. Websites, TV, video games, and even music can really take your mind off of studying (we’re looking at you, Facebook). Temporarily blocking websites or deactivating accounts, even just for a day, will force you to avoid those distractions. Certain sites will even maintain your account while you temporarily deactivate it, almost like they know you’ll be crawling back after your brief stay away. Studies have shown that classical music can actually “influence the students’ motivation to remain focused” during lectures or study times.
Take Time Off
If time permits, take a day or night off. We often stress ourselves out by worrying about the work we have to accomplish and focusing on the negative aspects. If you can, give yourself time to do the things you love, even just for an afternoon and evening. Take your mind off your studies and give your brain a chance to recuperate, and it can actually help prevent procrastination.
Ultimately, studying can be extremely difficult. Not only is there a lot of material, it’s not always the most intriguing information. Sometimes, though, the little things can help – by studying more efficiently, removing distractions, and planning ahead, you can avoid procrastination and feel more comfortable about your studying.