Do you leave everything until the last minute? Find yourself studying the night before for every assignment and test?
Meet Ally, a 2020 HSC student and member of our Pathfinder Program. She had this exact same problem.
In Year 11, she found herself completing a Design and Tech portfolio and a Legal Studies essay in just one night! It’s probably not surprising to say that after this, she realised that something needed to change…
“It’s just so much easier to get motivation the night before, and Netflix is always more enjoyable than sitting down and studying. It wasn’t even the effect on my grades that made me realise I needed to change because I was still doing okay… The mental stress I got from cramming just wasn’t bearable anymore.”
Luckily with help from her Pathfinder Mentor Sarah, Ally was able to find some techniques and coping mechanisms that allowed her to plan ahead and avoid those anxiety-fueled last-minute study sessions!
“I’m always going to be a procrastinator, however, there are ways to manage it that makes life a lot smoother.”
The thing is, these techniques are super straightforward and something that everyone can apply in their own life! So what are you waiting for, let’s find out what they are…
- Ally speaks German
- She loves to travel and spend time with her 5-year-old brother
- She was supposed to go to Nationals for rowing in 2020, but COVID-19 got in the way
- Ally has received three offers for early entry with help from a Pathfinder Program university workshop
Strategy #1: The Chunking Technique
“It was actually amazing that I was prepared for the HSC. Without my mentor Sarah, I don’t think it would have been possible and I would have been a whole lot more anxious and overwhelmed.
“We were paired up really well and she was able to immediately understand what I needed. Before I had her as a mentor, I thought there was nothing I could to do stop my procrastination.”
The first strategy Sarah used to help Ally banish last-minute study is something called The Chunking Technique.
Basically, a lot of the time the reason we procrastinate is that we have these massive overwhelming tasks and we don’t know where to start.
To overcome this, we need to look at whatever the overwhelming task may be and break it up into three smaller ones.
This is what we call chunking.
We break a task into smaller little tasks to make it less daunting and to figure out where to start. That way, instead of getting turned off by a huge piece of work, you can work through these smaller challenges one by one.
“While at first, it felt like I had hundreds of little tasks, they were actually way more approachable because they were achievable.”
So this is the first thing Ally did to avoid last-minute study.
Strategy #2: What Does a ‘Realistic’ Study Plan Look Like?
Another major problem Ally’s mentor identified was that her study plan was really out of sync with how she actually studied.
It was jam-packed, and the fact is that Ally is always inclined to procrastinate.
If your study plan is unrealistic, you’ll keep on missing out on tasks. All this will do is demotivate you and lead to further procrastination!
As a result, Sarah helped Ally create a study plan that was more suited to her personality. She made Ally give herself more time to complete tasks. Rather than completing a paragraph in 40 minutes, she would allocate an hour.
This made Ally feel like she could actually finish the task in time, and this gave her extra motivation to get motivated and get procrastination out of the way early!
This is what Ally’s timetable ended up looking like:
Note how there’s a reschedule section for what she missed at the bottom???
Bonus Tip: Stars of Encouragement
Need an extra little burst of encouragement? Ally has a secret that you can apply in your own life to keep up dedication to large-scale goals!
It’s called a star chart:
What Ally would do is make a goal and use the ‘star chart’ as a visual representation of her journey towards achieving it.
For example, the goal on this document was 50 hours of study in 3 weeks split into 30 min blocks. Each time she would complete a block she’d put a star in a square.
“Being able to have a visual representation was super helpful and really encouraging. Having the desire to complete the chart also helped keep the momentum going for my study. “
Have some larger goals for your study? Keep up the motivation with your very own stars of encouragement!
Strategy #3: Find an Accountability Buddy
The great thing about having a Pathfinder Performance Coach was the fact that Ally had someone else keeping her accountable. This way, she would stay on top of her work and avoid leaving things until the last minute.
“Every Monday I would send Sarah my timetable for the week ahead. She would look at it and tell me if there was any other study I should be doing. We’d also review my timetable from the week before and see what I missed out on.”
Sarah would push Ally to reschedule the study she missed the week before. This is super important because it meant that Ally couldn’t keep putting off certain topics until the last minute before an exam or assessment.
Additionally, Sarah would get Ally to allocate time to the topics she found most difficult.
“As a procrastinator, I would always go straight to study the stuff I was good at. It was just so much easier to get started, but being held accountable allowed me to move more towards what I struggled with.”
This proved to be crucial further down the track come exam time!
But What if You’re Not in the Pathfinder Program?
Now, while YOU may not have a Pathfinder Mentor at this moment, there are other options for an accountability buddy!
Friends, parents, siblings, and other mentors will also work. You can send them your timetable regularly and ask for advice. Additionally, if your accountability buddy is your peer, it can be a great idea to have study sessions together.
For example, Sarah found that studying with her best friend over ZOOM was a great way to keep concentrated.
They would talk for the first 15 minutes of their session then put their mics on mute and study for the rest. If either one saw the other procrastinating they would call it out!
“This was a great technique for me because I wouldn’t get bored and my friend would keep me studying at my desk.”
Whether a Pathfinder Mentor or just a mate, finding an accountability buddy could help you manage procrastination effectively. Remember, two heads are always better than one!
Need a Pathfinder Mentor to be Your Accountability Buddy?
Get a mentor like Ally’s to help you develop a personalised study plan in The Pathfinder Program!
Learn more or get started with an inspirational Pathfinder Mentor and get in touch today!
Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on Facebook!