As the end of the semester draws near, so do your finals—whether they come in the form of a test, paper, research project, presentation, pubic performance, or whatever else your professors may have cooked up to test your comprehension of material they’ve spent months drilling into your head. That means you should start studying! If you’re a procrastinator, these tips may help:
1. Stop waiting for the perfect time.
Even if you don’t feel inspired or motivated to study, write, or practice the trombone, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. If you wait around for inspiration, you’ll never get anything done.
2. Stop searching for the perfect place.
Your dorm room is too loud. Outdoor spaces are too cold. The library is too busy. The coffee shop smells too good. Sound familiar? If you seem to always have an excuse not to do work on account of some uncontrollable environmental factor, than heed the following advice: there is no such thing as a perfect place to work. If you keep looking, you’ll never find it. Instead, make do with what you have. Just get busy wherever and whenever!
3. Make lists—ordered by priority.
In order to stop distracting yourself with menial tasks, like organizing your pen collection or folding your socks, make a list of tasks and order it by priority. You’ll probably notice that studying for your final exam or writing your final paper is at the top. Force yourself to work through the list in that order.
4. Break tasks into smaller parts.
Writing an entire paper can seem like an insurmountable task. But if you break it down into smaller parts—like writing an introduction, for example, or writing just one or two pages—then you just might get something done.
5. Reward yourself.
For every hour you study, give yourself abreak. For every paper you write, treat yourself to a nice meal. Or whatever! Just come up with ways to reward yourself for doing work. It provides a tangible, immediate motivation.
6. Eliminate temptation.
If you get distracted by your TV, your computer, or your friends—let’s face it, we’d all rather spend time having fun—then take those distractions out of the equation. Go to the library, for example. Leave your cell phone behind. Turn off your Wi-Fi.
7. Ask for help.
Don’t let your frustrations get the best of you. If you don’t understand the material, or are struggling with your paper, then email your professor. Better yet, visit them during office hours. The personalized, one-on-one attention may be the spark you need to get working.