There are ways to overcome the temptation to disappear down an internet rabbit-hole filled with cats, LOLz and videos of sneezing pandas. The answer is in productive procrastination: the art of getting stuff done while ignoring that other thing that needs to be done.
While many of us belong to the ‘creative chaos’ camp, research shows that a cluttered desk can make it tougher for the brain to focus, so give that space a little zhoosh. Do some filing, throw away the burrito wrappers and wash those coffee mugs that you forgot you owned because they were buried under an Amazon forest worth of paper. While you’re at it open a window. If you’re a laptop-on-the-bed kind of studier, you could maybe give an hour or two to crafting a study nook out of milk crates and cushions.
This is particularly handy at study time. Get a mammoth piece of cardboard and divide it into date squares and jot down a plan of what you need to achieve. Let your inner craft monster out and colour code that piece of functional art. Add in classes, study times, breaks and commitments. And a splash of glitter because study can be fabulous. A visual (and beautiful) reminder can help keep you on task.
Life administration days are important. Go through your inbox, unsubscribe from all of those daily deal sites that seemed like such a good idea at the time, but are now weighing heavily on your ability to find emails of importance. Clean your fridge – If you keep sniffing last week’s take-away and putting it back because it seems too risky, it’s probably time to let it go. Do your taxes, upgrade your health insurance, update your address on the electoral role. Future you will be so grateful.
To-do lists are crucial, so make a couple. Put ‘start a list’ at the top of the page, then tick that bad boy. Feels good doesn’t it?
One list can have all the big ticket items, like all the assignments that need finishing (or starting), and the other can be a daily list. Make this list a biggie. Include everything from getting out of bed, brushing your teeth and smiling at someone on the bus. Crossing things of a list is motivating and pumps you up to do the other less-pleasant things you also need to get done.
If your mind is starting to stray, Facebook isn’t going to help bring back your focus. Before you fall into a spiral of stalking your ex and their exes, get up and walk around. Do 20-30 minutes of physical activity. Get those endorphins flowing.
Whatever it is you’re avoiding, just start. Sometimes all you need is the first line to get the creative juices flowing.
Check out a few different ideas for how to start studying that might help you get moving.