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WAIT! Don’t bookmark this page to read later!
If you were about to do that, then you definitely need to read this post. But don’t feel bad: procrastination affects 87% of high school and college students alone, according to this study. Given all the work in law school, many law students struggle with time management and procrastination as well. The good news is that there are several steps you can take to stop procrastinating today. The first step is to continue reading this post!
Here are some effective tips for beating procrastination:
1. Ask Yourself Why
Why are you procrastinating? What’s keeping you from starting the assignment? Honestly asking yourself these questions can reveal a lot. If you are avoiding the assignment at hand because you are worried about that other assignment more, go work on that one! If something unresolved in your personal life is keeping you from accomplishing any work, maybe you should try and address those things first.
Even if your answer to “why” is that you don’t want to, you can do something about that. Remind yourself why this particular task is important to your goals. These include short-term goals (grades) and long-term goals (overall legal knowledge, employment). Write these goals down and pin them on your desk. Knowing what you’re working towards will keep you motivated.
2. Break it Down
Large tasks always seem daunting—until you break them down. We tend to set unrealistic goals for ourselves since we have so much to do. This can lead to more procrastination, however. If you have the unrealistic goal of being completely prepared for a test in one afternoon of studying, you will never get started.
There are several ways you can break down your assignments. One is to create a longer time frame, for example, “I will finish this assignment in the next week.” Kick things off by doing something today and asking yourself what you can do for 10 minutes today that will help you finish this task in the next week. You will get to work, start the assignment, and can continue your momentum with more 10-minute segments of work. Feeling good? Try one-hour increments of work.
3. Find Your Study Space
Environment is everything. A noisy dorm room is guaranteed to mess up the best of study plans. Where do you work best? Outside? In the library? Do you listen to a specific music playlist?
Finding the right time, place, and sound that make you study the best is important. Once you start studying in that place, you will create a mental habit. Your brain will think, “ok, it is time to study” as soon as you get into your study place. No distractions (no internet is a good thing), no excuses, just you and your work.
It’s important to mention study groups at this point. While students turn to study groups as great review tools, they can be procrastination black holes. They can quickly turn into hang out sessions with textbooks sitting around. While a few heads may be better than one, come exam day it’s your head that matters.
4. Make it Fun
There are many ways to make studying fun from putting candy at the end of textbook pages to watching an episode of TV after every few outlines that you finish. Research shows that there is a strong correlation between productivity and reward stimuli. Knowing you will get something you want after you finish a task can help make the task a habit.
5. Don’t Hate
“Why do I always do this? I’m such a bad student. That’s just a fact.” Sound familiar? We often say these bad things about ourselves after procrastinating. The problem is, not forgiving yourself for procrastinating will keep you in a negative mindset. A study found that students who forgave themselves for procrastinating were less likely to do it again.
Forgiving yourself for procrastinating is a part of practicing mindfulness. Being hard on yourself is a fixed mindset. You should be going for a growth mindset. Focus on ways to improve yourself based on experience instead of constantly judging and going nowhere. You can solve your procrastination in the process!
If you made it to the end of this post, you are clearly dedicated to ending procrastination. The best thing to do is to end the cycle of procrastination today! Ten minutes at a time, you can get on track on that one assignment that is hanging over your head. Start there, get the momentum going, and by the end of the day, you can accomplish much more than you think! You got this!
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