Archive for the ‘Tips and Hints’ Category

Your exams are coming up. You’ve probably got several assignments all due in the last week of semester. You have more work to do than there is time in the day.

Yet you just spent three hours on Facebook looking at photos of people you’ve never even met just because they randomly popped up on the sidebar.

Oops.

Why do we procrastinate?

I’m procrastinating right now by writing this article. Why? Because the pile of assignments I have is just too draining, and so this seems easier, more enjoyable. Yet in fact it involves me doing the same thing I would be doing otherwise: sitting here and typing. The thing is, knowing you have to do something automatically kills the intrinsic interest you have in a topic. How many subjects have you absolutely loved the content matter of, yet found yourself hating it when the chore of having to do a major assignment or exam stresses you out? Which brings me to the next point:

Other times, it’s a way of dealing with stress. No matter how maladaptive procrastination is, it helps you leave behind the stress of the task at hand for a moment.

                                                                                   

What type of procrastinator are you?

There are four distinct types of procrastination:

Self-Doubters:  Self-doubting procrastinators feel that they cannot live up to the standard of how something should be done. They second-guess everything and in doing so delay action.

Discomfort Dodging: That assignment is hard, that job is far too difficult, best I do the easy task first! Dodging the discomfort feels much better, so we put it off until later. Ironically, this just increases the level of discomfort when we have to face up to it!

Guilt-Driven: You feel an overwhelming sense of guilt for a task undone, but rather than correct the original lack of action, you procrastinate to not have to face up to the feelings of guilt.

Habitual: You’re just so used to procrastinating, you don’t even think about it, it’s just an ingrained response. The task becomes difficult, your concentration wavers and then you automatically decide to “just quickly check Facebook”.

                                                                                   

So how do we beat procrastination?

The first sign, as always, is acceptance! Understand that you are procrastinating, why you are procrastinating and make it better. Then try these on for size:

o1 :: Eat An Elephant :: How do you eat an elephant? Chunk it down! Break up an overwhelming task into smaller pieces. Don’t have a break until you have finished the goal you set.

o2 :: Denounce Your Robotic Race :: If you are one of these people who stress over perfection: don’t! Accept you are only human, not a machine. Perfection is rarely attainable (if ever) and is even more rarely ever necessary. Use the 80/20 rule wherever appropriate!

o3 :: Free The Mind :: Minimise distractions: Turn off email notifications, find a quiet room, resist the urge to take breaks, unplug your internet if necessary!

o4 :: Cleanliness is next to Godliness :: Perfect your organisational skills. Have a clean work area. Have all stationary, notes, tools,  utensils etc in a proper place so you can find them when you need them. This will not only aid efficiency, but stop the urge to clean as a procrastination tool!

05 :: Schedule your priorities :: Distinguish obligations from options. Know what has to be done and estimate how long it will take to do it. List and prioritise (your student diary is perfect for that!). Set deadlines for decisions. Ask a parent/friend/sibling/partner to hold you accountable for sticking to your self-set deadline!

o6 :: Use the fork, Luke :: Stay healthy! Eats healthily and regularly, maintain a regular sleep routine, exercise for a break and always have breakfast

o7 :: Play Mum :: Remind yourself of the consequences of your actions. being lazy is going to end up with so-and-so happening to me. Only you will suffer the consequences!

08 :: Curing 3:30itis :: Do you lag in the afternoon? In the morning? After lunch? Use the lag time to make a list of things your want to achieve, so you can hit the ground running when you dive back into your work.

o9 :: Throw it into Reverse :: Take your excuse and turn it back onto itself. You’ll do it tomorrow because you’re too tired after work? Well take a 20 minute nap and then get started on that task! Make a solution task out of every excuse!

1o :: Play Santa :: Don’t forget to reward yourself for hard work done well! If you set yourself goals and achieve them, reward yourself by taking time off study to do something you want, something you put off to do the work

And with that, it’s time for me to return to my studies! Just after I make myself a coffee first…

With end of semester exams on the way, it’s time for a few exam hints to get you through the study period so you don’t have to resort to this:

There are many ways to tackle an exam: this is not one of them!

Here’s a few that have helped us through the years:

o1 :: Write notes in your own handwriting: it sounds simple, but this is a fantastic way of facilitating your memory. For some people, re-writing out your entire compliment of notes (combining lecture notes, your notes and extra tid bits) is the best way to remember everything. For others, you may want to try something less extreme.

o2 :: If repeatedly writing something over and over again won’t help, write your notes in a new format. You may need to do something more engaging e.g. write an acronym.

o3 :: Are you a visual learner? Take over the kitchen and bathroom with hand-made posters. If you make them yourself you will remember the content better e.g. write out things like the process of photosynthesis and stick it up on your kitchen wall. That way you’ll revise it every morning over breakfast.

o4 ::  Make your own flashcards.

o5 :: Get together with a friend and each of you draw a diagram but leave the labels out. Swap with your friend and see which areas you can fill in.

o6 :: Colour your notes: Relating information to colours will help you remembering.

o7 :: Take short breaks for exercising or doing something fun. When you are relaxing your give your brain some time to encode what you just learned and put it into your long-term memory.

o8 ::  Before you start, clean up your room so that you wont be distracted  (the only time it’s almost fun to clean your room is when you have to study if you don’t)

o9 ::  Utilise your lecturers – they are there to help if you do not understand something. But approach them with organised questions. They will be unable to help you if turn up saying you need help understanding a whole topic.

1o ::  Bouncing ideas off friends can be a great way to learn – but know your strengths. If group work distracts you, work alone.

11 :: Answer lots of practise questions. The only way to truly test your understanding of concepts is to utilise practise exams and questions. The best way to learn is by getting the questions wrong and having to investigate where you made a mistake – so celebrate incorrect answers!

12 :: Don’t forget to revise your prac book – most exams will test you on practical knowledge, or even prac procedures (e.g. what to clean a pipette out with if you are using X chemical).

13 :: Prepare the night before: get all your exam equipment, student card and seat number ready. Arrive nice and early to double-check your seat number and ensure you’re there for reading time. You don’t need the added stress of things going wrong on the day of your exam.

14 :: Sleep! Some people will pull all-nighters the night before the exam. Sleeping and dreaming is actually critical for converting short-term memory into long-term. You will recall more facts after a decent night’s sleep, believe it or not!

15 :: On that note, eat lots, too. Your brain won’t function without food. You may not feel hungry (the adrenaline produced during study will quell your appetite), but your brain won’t power as well on empty.

16 :: Previous themes will give you an idea of what questions will be asked – look out for these in past exams!