One of the barriers to being and feeling productive is procrastination. In this post, I share a few resources I have found along the way that deal with this important topic. Reading time ~ 3 minutes, 50 seconds.
To procrastinate is to ‘voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse-off for the delay‘
In the world of study, it looks like leaving work to the last minute, even though you know it will stress you out and your work won’t be as good a quality as it could be.
Procrastination is very common, arguably universal. Delaying and postponing stuff we need to do seems like a feature of modern humans, not so much a bug. Of course, some people struggle with it more than others.
Procrastination isn’t something we fix or cure, so much as learn to manage. We develop strategies and tools to manage the underlying motivational and self-regulatory biases that drive procrastination.
Here at Flinders we have a few resources you can call on to tackle procrastination. We have our Studyology program which is taking expressions of interest at the moment. We have the team at Student Learning Support Services whose academic skills training and support help many students develop a better relationship with their studies.
But maybe you want to explore on your own.
As part of the Studyology program, I keep a list of resources I find along the way. I’ve reproduced them here as it seems silly to deny you these tools, just because you haven’t done the program!
You’ll see that some are specifically procrastination related. Others are about tackling related areas: academic skills, time management, self-care.
Oh yeah, if you find a procrastination resource that really helps you, please let me know about it in the comments below. I am sure that other students (and staff if they’re honest) would be interested.
Reproduced from the Studyology booklet………..
Studyology teaches you a psychological process to help tackle procrastinatory behaviour.
At the core is the idea that procrastination is a form of experiential avoidance – an attempt to escape unpleasant thoughts, feelings, sensations, memories or experiences associated with study. Procrastination provides short-term relief from these experiences, but unfortunately leads to longer-term problems.
Tackling procrastination therefore involves learning to sit with those unpleasant experiences without resorting to procrastination and to remain in contact with the necessary study tasks, until the natural rewards of learning, achievement start to take effect and break the cycle of avoidance.
But everyone’s specific situation is different, and students get varying level of value from the Studyology process.
So, where else can you look for assistance with procrastination?
Here are some potential next steps:
Academic skills ✍🏼
For some students, study becomes aversive because they struggle to master the academic skills necessary for doing well at study: writing essays, scientific reports, reflective writing, academic integrity, referencing. If you think this might be you, then consider spending some time utilising the Student Learning Support Service – https://flo.flinders.edu.au/course/view.php?id=11825. Their academic skills guides, videos and programs are excellent and teach just about every aspect of the academic process. I’ve spent time co-presenting with one of their people and they really know their stuff.
Life getting in the way 🚧
For some students, it is things happening in other aspects of their life (e.g. relationships, works, grief/loss, health/mental health) that are making it hard to focus on their studies. In this case, it might be Health, Counselling and Disability Services that are best for you. You can access GPs, counsellors, disability advisors and specialist wellbeing programs to provide assistance in addressing difficulties in other parts of your life – https://students.flinders.edu.au/support/hcd
Time management ⏲
The modern student is juggling many things: family, work, health, hobbies, volunteering and more. Whilst we applaud such diversity, we also need to remind students that a full-time study load equates to at least 30+ hours of allocated time per week. Students who are falling behind will need to ask themselves the difficult question of whether they are trying to pack too much into their lives and make some difficult decisions about what to prioritise. Even if you can fit it all in, you may need to look at how you are managing your time and introduce some efficiencies in order to allocate appropriate time to study – https://blogs.flinders.edu.au/student-health-and-well-being/2021/07/12/principles-of-time-management/
Study space 🖥
We often neglect the extent to which our environment impacts on our wellbeing and productivity. Sometimes the impetus to work is not driven by something internal (motivation) but something external (a nice place to study). I’ve spent quite a bit of time refining the spaces in which I work to make them both functional but also nice places to be. I recommend you do the same – https://blogs.flinders.edu.au/student-health-and-well-being/2021/08/10/create-study-space-makes-want-study/
Our nervous system is set up in a way that means optimal learning and development happens when we have both periods of intense focus and periods of deep rest and recuperation.
If your degree is your ‘intense focus’ then what does your rest and recuperation look like? Check out our self-care document for some ideas on how to nurture the parts of you other than your studies – https://blogs.flinders.edu.au/student-health-and-well-being/2021/04/06/self-care-mega-guide/
Stress management 😣
Stress isn’t all good or all bad. It’s the activation of our nervous system to take action. We can develop a different relationship to stress. I love this illustrated stress-management guide that is based on the same therapy model (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy – ACT) as the Studyology program. Available in multiple languages.
Some more resources on the topic if you want to keep searching for the right approach for you
Other Reading/listening in the area 📚
Reframing one’s time management as a commitment to allocating precious time to the things that are most important to you – https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/aug/07/on-earth-4000-weeks-so-why-lose-time-online-distraction-oliver-burkeman
A master on deep and focused work – https://www.calnewport.com/
A master of explaining how to understand and leverage our nervous system for health, wellbeing and productivity – https://hubermanlab.com/