Struggling with some really bad procrastination? You’re not alone!

We interviewed Ally, a former master procrastinator who sat her HSC last year about strategies she used to manage the inevitable procrastination that can come with studying for your HSC.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s find out what her top 3 strategies were!

Meet Ally!

  • Alexandra Hammer, or Ally, was a 2020 Year 12 HSC student at Tempe High School
  • She is one of 70 incredible Art of Smart Pathfinders from across NSW for 2020
  • Ally studied Advanced English, Standard Maths, Legal Studies, Biology, German Continuers and German Extension
  • She used to train 6 days a week as a competitive rower 

The Challenge: Procrastination to No End
Strategy #1: Implementing a Realistic Study Plan
Strategy #2: Having an Accountability Buddy 
Strategy #3: Change Up Your Study Environment 

The Challenge: Procrastination to No End

Ally is a self-dubbed “master procrastinator.”

She admits that although she will always be a procrastinator, there will always be strategies you can implement to manage it.

Ally, like many other procrastinators, would leave things to the last minute and start (and complete) assessments in one night on adrenaline. 

“I remember, for my first assessment task in Year 11, I had a Design & Technology portfolio and a Legal Studies essay due the same day and I did them both the night before.” 

However, this was impacting her wellbeing at a larger scale, as the level of stress and anxiety endured from completing tasks the night before wasn’t healthy or sustainable. 

“You might do it as a one off, but when you procrastinate and cram tasks in one night every single assessment, it begins to impact your wellbeing which starts to impact your marks.”

Ally was feeling incredibly unorganised for the HSC, only starting writing her notes for Trials one week out from exams, and consequently not finishing them. 

With procrastination taking over her HSC, she was in need of a major overhaul!

Strategy #1: Implementing a Realistic Study Plan 

To manage her procrastination, Ally joined our Pathfinder Mentoring Program where she was paired with mentor Sarah Dagg. 

The Art of Smart Pathfinder program helps you find success, whatever your ATAR, through lifting your academic results, gaining clarity on your career path and standing out through maximising your future options. 

Sarah, Ally’s inspirational mentor, recommended she create realistic study plans. These were plans where Ally would allocate herself more time than she needed to complete a particular task – which included time she may get distracted. 

Check out how to create a kick-ass study plan for your HSC here!

For example, if Ally knew she could write a paragraph in about 30-40 minutes as part of her English study, she would give herself 1 hour to counter for any time she got distracted. 

“The extra time is comforting because you don’t feel as much pressure to get it done. For example, sometimes it takes 15minutes for me to start concentrating so the extra time allows me to do that.”


Strategy #2: Having an Accountability Buddy 

The second strategy Ally used to beat procrastination was having an accountability buddy!

As Ally’s mentor, Sarah fit this part perfectly. 

Ally would send Sarah her study plan for the week, where she would:

  • Allocate time for homework
  • Block out school hours
  • Schedule personal down time
  • Reschedule anything that didn’t get done in the previous week

Check out Ally’s study plan below!

Sarah would then review this study plan and also catch up with Ally on how she went with her previous week’s study plan. 

As an accountability buddy, Sarah would ensure Ally was reviewing parts of the syllabus that she actually struggled with, rather than easier sections she was confident with. 

“Doing the easy stuff makes you feel better because you can get it right but Sarah always pushed me to make sure I was studying the ‘hard’ stuff,” said Ally.

She also made sure that if anything wasn’t completed, that it would be rescheduled for the next week.

“If you miss a few tasks, you can feel unmotivated. This can disrupt the momentum and when that happens, it’s harder to get it going again so rescheduling is all about making sure you’re keeping the momentum going,” said Ally. 

Another way you can have an accountability buddy is through a Zoom study session!

Ally would sit on Zoom with one other friend, mute themselves and create a study environment. 

“If you see the other person not studying you go off mute and tell them to study!”

Strategy #3: Change Up Your Study Environment 

Find that you can’t continually study in one place? Neither could Ally.

To counter this, Ally recommends moving around and changing up your study environment. 

“If you’re in one spot for too long, it’s stagnant. You also get bored and make negative associations with the space.”

Ally found it hard to study in her bedroom where her desk was so would study in different locations for a change of scenery. 

Over the holidays leading up to HSC exams, Ally studied at her aunt’s house for a week before coming home to study in her own house. 

If you don’t have another house or location to study at, you can easily change up which room you study in.

For Ally, this was switching between studying in her bedroom, her study and her front porch. 

“It can be really mundane being in the same room all the time, but moving around gets your brain juice flowing again,” said Ally. 

And that wraps up Ally’s top 3 tips for managing procrastination! Good luck!

Momoko Metham is currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Art of Smart Education, having previously held roles as a Digital Content Coordinator in 2018 and an Academic Tutor and Mentor since 2017. She is currently in her final year of a Media and Communications degree at the University of Sydney with a double major in Marketing and Spanish and Latin American Studies. Momoko’s writing has been published in Archer Magazine, Dynamic Business and Honi Soit and she was the General Editor of the ARNA Literary Journal in 2019.