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Procrastination: Pit-Falls We’re All Guilty Of

By Jake Silove in Study
6th of May 2016

Procrastination is your worst enemy. Look, we all know that sitting down and smashing out three English essays, a Maths paper and an Economics case study in one session is an impractical approach. Taking regular breaks and spreading your study across the week is a great way to set you up for success. However, there are always times when you will need to just bite the bullet, head to your local library, and study for hours and hours straight. Maybe you have an English speech coming up and ‘forgot’ to read Hamlet, maybe you’ve worked out that Netflix isn’t blocked at school and there’s one spot in your Chemistry class where you can have one earphone in and your teacher won’t notice.


Whatever the reason, sometimes you’re just going to have to study. And, during the HSC, you’ll not only get great at it, but you’ll also get great at procrastination. Here are the top ways student’s procrastinate; fall into these traps at your own peril!


  1. Instagramming your Facebook post of a screenshot of your latest Snapchat of your study notes

Look, multitasking is a great skill to have. Sometimes, though, it just doesn’t work. I was definitely guilty of this form of procrastination (in fact, I still am); talking to someone over facebook, getting in a Snapchat conversation etc. whilst trying my best to study. It makes sense in your mind: Say you spend two hours study, and every minute you spend 5 seconds replying to a message. You’re still spending 90% of the time ‘studying’, which means over an hour and a half total. Doesn’t seem like a bad hit rate does it?



It doesn’t.


What that assumed was that, for that hour and a half, you were actually studying. Well, I hate to break it to you, but you weren’t. Every 5 seconds you spent typing your absolutely HILARIOUS response to the latest banter required another 5 seconds to find where you were on the page, 10 to remember what you’d just done, 10 to laugh at your joke a second time. Another 5 of the remaining 30 or so second in that minute will be spent with your eyes flicking to that little flashing dot at the top of your phone. Procrastination at its finest.


There are heaps of apps that you can use to increase your productivity, by shutting down social media. Take a look at Jamon’s article here to see how some of them work. I think, though, that once you recognise that you don’t actually study when you’re so distracted, you can utilise a little internal tool inbuilt in every human. Self-control. If you really care about your studies, you’ll try as best you can to avoid things that you know will make you less productive. You’ll try to avoid procrastination. Look, it’s bloody tough. That convo with Gazza, Shazza and Steve goes off on a Sunday morning. That being said, it’ll still be there when you’re done J


  1. Unproductive group study sessions (let’s just call them a gossip sesh, okay?)

Group study can be so useful. I couldn’t recommend working in groups more. The only reason I understood most of the Physics and Chemistry concepts was due to group conversations. I’m not going to go more in-depth regarding the ridiculousness of the notion that “working in groups will make my ATAR worse”; all I’ll say is that this idea is just untrue. Working in groups, if anything, is going to boost your ATAR. If you can understand a concept well enough to be able to explain it, or if you’re struggling and need an explanation other than your teacher’s, your peers are your best resource.


If you can, put together a group of people that you can study with and meet up once every two weeks. Go over difficult content, look through some past papers, but mainly just talk to each other about the curriculum. Bouncing ideas back and forward is such a good way to retain information, develop thesis’, understand complex ideas, pinpoint which areas you aren’t so strong with, and solidify concepts you do understand.


Offer to help the students’ around you, because explaining concepts is the best way to know that you understand them. Helping your cohort can be purely selfish: by helping them, you’re really just helping yourself. Also, it sort of feels good to help out your friends.


So why am I saying that this is one of the top forms of procrastination? Because a lot of the time, it just turns into a gossip session. Talking about one Modern History dot point does not give you an excuse to spend half an hour deciding whether you should go to the party on Saturday, considering Josh will be there too.


Like in all things study related, taking breaks is super important. In those breaks, have a chat with your friends, assess the social landscape, and talk politics (whatever floats your boat). But when you’re supposed to be studying, try actually studying. Otherwise, it can be a waste of a day.


  1. Food, glorious food

I was absolutely guilty of this form of procrastination when I studied at home. Scrambled eggs taste good. But you know what tastes better? Scrambled eggs on fresh bread, with caramelized onions, perfectly sliced tomatoes, toasted pine-nuts, parmesan cheese and a hint of basil.


Look, good food is important. It can keep you motivated throughout the day, keep you healthy, and keep you happy. But the fact is that, if you are one of those people who cook as much as they can just to procrastinate, you are wasting a lot of time (unless you have aspirations to become a chef, in which case go right ahead!).


I still do this. I did this today, procrastinating writing this article (my eggs were damn good). But as soon as you think to yourself, “Wow, this could really use basil”, find that there isn’t any in the house, and go to the shops to fix the situation, you know you have a problem.


  1. Productive procrastination

I’m a big fan of this model, but it can do way more harm than good. The idea is that, dreading doing a Mathematics past paper, you write an English essay instead. At the end of it, you think to yourself “Damn son! Look at that gorgeous essay” and then, full of pride, stop studying. That poor Mathematics paper!


Productive procrastination is far better than the above forms of procrastination, in which you’re basically doing nothing. However, if you get into the habit of it, it can mean that your less-strong and less-enjoyable subjects get a really raw deal out of the year.  


The more you study for your hard subjects, the easier it will get, and the more you’ll be able to study it without feeling like you want to drop out of high school. You essentially need to invest time in it, to make life easier on yourself in the long run. You probably have a list of subjects, in order, than you can’t stand studying. I certainly did. But you need to try to spend as much time on each subject as they require, not just as much time as is left over once you’ve done all your easier subjects. Try to come up with a list of tasks, or a time table, and stick to it. Doing this will achieve you the best results.


And there you have it! If you’re guilty of these procrastination techniques, don’t worry: You have to waste some time. Just try to minimise as much as possible for a successful HSC Year!


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