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Are You A Productive Procrastinator? Find Out With This Quiz


  1. Are you compelled by the need to make sure your workspace is perfectly neat and tidy before starting revision?  

  2. To revise, do you love re-writing all of your notes out neatly, maybe even colour-coding them and drawing pretty diagrams?

  3. Are you someone who can't live without their highlighter and loves to highlight all key terms or ideas in texts you are reading?  

  4. Do you struggle to take notes fast enough in class or sometimes miss what a teacher is trying to explain because you are busy getting every piece of information down?  

  5. When you're revising, do you always tend to work from the beginning to the end, always starting with the easier questions and working up to the harder ones?  

  6. Do you find yourself interrupted multiple times in a study session by having to get up and adjust things in the room, refill your water bottle, get food or re-organise your revision materials?  

  7. When you make a mistake, do you erase it all and start from the beginning again?  

  8. Do you often reply to school or personal emails that come through while you are revising?  

  9. When you have several subjects to study for/assignments to complete, do you usually start with your favourite subjects first or the ones you find easiest?  

  10. Do you often get stuck in the 'planning and researching phase' when completing assignments and take a long time to actually start writing the assignment itself

 

 

If you answered yes to majority of these questions, there's a good chance you're a productive procrastinator (in fact, you may even be procrastinating right now by taking this quiz!).  So what is productive procrastination exactly?  I mean, if I'm doing something productive, how can that even be considered procrastinating?

 

Productive procrastination in the context of school and studying refers to the act of completing alternative tasks which often require less brainpower to avoid completing tasks which are important to get done but may be overwhelming, difficult or just plain boring!  The tricky thing is we often do this subconsciously so it can be really hard to recognise when you are falling into this trap and pull yourself out of it. 

 

For example, you might be really overwhelmed about starting your revision for your Maths exam which is heavily focused on finding the volume of various shapes.  You know you are all on top of doing this for cubes and rectangular prisms but you always forget how to do triangular prisms and cones.  To revise, you decide to do the revision worksheet your teacher has given you.  Instead of zeroing in on the questions you are struggling with and perhaps doing extra questions on these topics from your textbook etc. to supplement the work your teacher has provided, you start from the beginning where the questions are easy and run out of time to get to the harder stuff.  Don't get us wrong, sometimes it's important to do easy questions to build confidence; however, in most cases, students reach for the easy questions they already know how to do because it's too overwhelming to make a start on the areas they struggle with. 

 

Students then end up finishing a study session feeling like they've been productive because they have done lots of questions but in reality, they have just been productively procrastinating without realising and they haven't actually made any real progress in the session.  Over time, students can feel very defeated because results aren't improving yet they feel like they are working really hard so don't understand where they are going wrong

 

Breaking the cycle of productive procrastination starts with being really honest with yourself and taking the time to identify which tasks will actively help you improve and which ones you are doing to just go through the motions.  Hint!  It's usually the tasks you want to do the least that will give you the most growth.  Here are some tips to overcome the most common forms of productive procrastination

 

1. At the beginning of each week, take time to make a list of priorities and honestly reflect on your strengths and weaknesses.

Write these out somewhere so you can quickly reference and stay on track.  However, don't fall into the trap of using this planning time as its own form of productive procrastination where you spend more time planning your week than ever getting anything done!  If you are at risk of doing this, setting yourself a timer and not allowing yourself to use more than this time to plan can help

 

2. Set task timers

Following on from the point above, setting timers can help you consciously keep track of how much time you are wasting on tasks that don't directly contribute to your improvement.  For example, if you are someone who must have a clean workspace before starting work, set a timer for say 3 minutes and allow yourself ONLY those 3 minutes to organise yourself.  If the timer goes off, too bad - you just have to start studying. 

 

Likewise, if the feeling of getting started on hard tasks is too overwhelming, set yourself a timer for a short period of time and make yourself work for that time.  For example, you really don't want to start your History revision.  Set a timer for 10 minutes and make yourself study for those 10 minutes.  When the timer goes off, you can work on something else or go for a break.  In the beginning, keep the timer really short and build up as your perseverance improves.

 

3. If you are someone who loves having beautiful notes and take your time making things look pretty, have two separate notebooks. 

One notebook can be the 'messy book' and the other can be the 'pretty book'.  The messy book is to use in class.  You need to mentally allow this book to become messy and not obsess over writing all your notes out neatly.  This will allow you to jot information down quickly and remain present in what your teacher is actually trying to teach you.  If you absolutely must have pretty notes, after you get home, reflect on your lesson and create a neat, condensed version (set a timer if you need to avoid spending all your revision time on this task). The trick here is to only include the most important details and try to condense all the class information.  Avoid simply copying info word for word across and try to create notes from memory instead.  This will allow you to actively think about what you've learnt and get a deeper understanding instead of using this process as yet another way to avoid harder tasks

 

4. Remove all distractions from your study space

Put your phone in another room and switch it off, don't have emails open on your screen where they can notify and distract you

 

5. Set yourself a daily challenge/self-improvement focus

Every little step you take towards proactively improving yourself no matter how small it may seem at the time adds up!  Let's say you have an English assignment that you have to complete and you are completely overwhelmed with starting.  Once you recognise that you are avoiding starting the assignment, catch yourself out and think 'what is one little task I can do towards completing this assignment that I'm avoiding but will actively help me finish the task?'.  It might just be coming up with your thesis.  This helps you build momentum instead of getting stuck and avoiding starting altogether

 

If you are really struggling and need an extra hand, consider tutoring support.  Our expert tutors are trained to recognise challenges you are having and can help you form great study habits that will support you in your academic journey.  Sometimes, the best way to overcome procrastination is to have another person hold you accountable!  To inquire about tutoring, contact our team on 1300 466 665 or info@studymonkey.com.au

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