Manage your world
Ways of managing your world
- Pay attention to your attention - Be aware of your internal interruptions. If you keep interrupting your studying to remind yourself of something, decide to do it before studying or write yourself a note to do at a later time.
- Agree with living mates about study time -“ Make the rules clear to roommates, parents, spouses and kids. Once they are set, stick to them and follow them yourself.
- Get off the phone - “ Stay off the phone when you are trying to study. Simply say "I can't talk right now, I'm studying." Most people will understand if it has to do with your education.
- Learn to say "no." Saying "no" to a request can be done effectively and courteously. Others want you to succeed as a student and will understand if you say you cannot do something because you are busy studying.
- Hang a "do not disturb" sign on your door - This will let others know that you are working.
- Get ready the night before - Completing a few simple tasks before going to bed can help you get in gear faster the next day. For example, if you have to make phone calls in the morning, look up the numbers, write them on a piece of paper, and leave them by the phone.
- Call ahead - A few seconds on the phone can save hours in wasted trips and wrong turns. For example, phone the grocery store to see if they carry the items you need before you drive down there or call for directions before leaving.
- Avoid noise distractions - Studying in a quiet environment is best.
- Notice how others misuse your time - Be aware of repeat offenders who interrupt your studying. If avoiding the interrupter is impractical, then send a clear message.
When you get stuck
- What is one task I can accomplish toward my goal?
- Am I being too hard on myself?
- Does this need to be perfect?
- Would I pay myself for what I am doing right now?
- Can I do just one more thing?
- Am I making time for things that are important but not urgent? (i.e., exercise)
- Can I delegate this? Could I ask someone else to do such time-consuming tasks as make supper or collect library books?
- How did I just waste time? Note: this is not the same as feeling guilty. The point is not to blame yourself, but rather to increase your skill. Move from "blame" to "learn".
- Could I find the time if I really wanted? If someone was paying you to do schoolwork, could you find four more hours without sacrificing sleep or anything important to you?
- Am I willing to promise it? If you want to find time for a task, promise yourself and others that you'll get it done. Promises can work magic because when your word is on the line, it's possible to discover reserves of time and energy you didn't know existed.
If you can identify with these questions, check out our other resources online or come to a Study Skills Workshop to learn more about how you can get back on track with your studies.
Tips for avoiding procrastination
- Make your plans a part of public record - Write down your plan and it will be harder to ignore, or announce your plan to close friends or family members.
- Step back and check your progress from time to time - Avoid becoming bogged down in the details of your work by periodically stepping back and measuring your progress to see how near or far you are from achieving your intended goal.
- Let your momentum work for you - Let the excitement from accomplishing an interesting task carry over to an activity that interest you less. This extra energy will help you start on the dreaded task, and once you have started (the hardest part), you will be that much closer to finishing.
- Use the five-minute plan - Begin a long neglected task by agreeing to work on it for only five minutes. When the five minutes are up, decide if you want to keep going. You usually will, because simply starting is the hardest part.
- Be specific- break your task into smaller goals - Clearly define what you need to do and the goal will seem more concrete, doable, and therefore, easier to complete. This will also make the task seem less overwhelming. For example, rather than saying to yourself, "I've got to start writing that research paper," start breaking down the assignment: choosing a topic, compiling a working bibliography, writing an outline.
- Verbalize your excuses - State your excuses for procrastinating out loud to yourself or to a friend, you'll often find that your reasoning is not nearly as logical as you'd thought.
- Visualize success or completion - Imagine yourself accomplishing a task, passing a test, or achieving a goal. This visualization gives you a tangible game plan and the positive outcome imagined provides an incentive to complete the task.
- Find a reward - construct rewards carefully and be willing to withhold them until you complete the task.
Overcome Needless Stress
Preemptive tips for handling stress
- Be prepared for tests by reviewing information well in advance. Get help if you need it.
- Check and double check the location of the exam. Make sure you know how to find the room, where you can park, etc.
- Don't overemphasize the importance of any one test or assignment. Even final exams are often worth only 30% or 40% of the entire grade. Tell yourself, "I will do the best I can."
- Get a good night's sleep the night before the test. Rise early and eat well on the day of the exam.
- Practise relaxation exercises on a regular basis, so that you"ll be able to manage your level of anxiety on the day of the exam. Use visualization to relax the night before. On the day of the exam, see yourself as calm, relaxed and ready to write. Repeat positive affirmations and calming phrases to yourself.