Does procrastinating affect your studying?

Studying later
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Over 70% of students I survey say procrastination is a big issue for them

I respect you for the sacrifices you make for your studies. There are a lot of them, and they’re not easy to keep making, day after day, year after year.

No matter how many lectures / tutorials / online courses you’ve signed up for, no matter how committed you are to your studies when you sign up, it’s what you do at your desk, on your own, that counts the most.

My interaction with students over MANY years is that most of them KNOW they’re procrastinating. They know there’s studying they ‘should’ be doing, but aren’t.
This will affect your marks WAY more than your understanding of the details of a calculation.

plan vs reality

I make my Study Coaching students complete a form on a weekly basis, comparing what their ‘plans’ are, vs what they actually did.

The majority of the feedback is this:

  • Their assessment of whether they met their plans is mostly “Sort of”
  • They’re generally surprised, and disappointed that they didn’t do what they planned.

The scary thing about this is that they didn’t make a conscious decision to do less. It ‘just happened’. That means they’re not fully in control of what they do.

Later - Procrastination studies

why do we procrastinate?

We keep telling ourselves that “next week will be different”, or that “once month-end is over, I’ll have more time”. This is seldom true, and next week ends up looking a lot like this week.

Here are some thoughts on why we sabotage ourselves this way

Waiting for motivation

It’s a LOT easier to do something if we ‘feel’ like it. We don’t CONSCIOUSLY make the decision NOT to study today, but if we don’t feel like it, we’re unlikely to put the mental effort into getting our butts into that chair.

I wrote an article and recorded a video on this topic, take a look

Perfectionism

Most Accounting students I’ve taught over the years are perfectionists. There are a few ways this trait affects their studying:

  • They don’t feel ready for questions, so they avoid them
  • They don’t feel like they’re progressing fast enough, so they avoid studying to prevent feeling stupid all the time
  • They need to have their environment, schedule and situation  under their control. If they don’t have a big block of time available, or the conditions in their study environment aren’t ideal, they feel they can’t learn anything, so there’s no point
  • Fear of failure. Studying is a process of moving from ignorance to expertise. That’s not a quick journey, and there are inevitable failures along the way. Perfectionists will avoid failing as far as possible. This means they’ll avoid trying, in case they fail.
  • Past experience creates a mental block. If they’ve struggled with something before, it’s very tough for a perfectionist to ‘feel’ that they’ll be successful in the future.
  • This often plays out as a lot of planning, thinking and scheduling to make sure that they have the right time and conditions to work hard and long at it, to make sure they perfect their knowledge. Sadly, studying and life seldom allows for all this time.
  • Perfectionists generally avoid situations that involve uncertainty, and unknown situations. Studying is nothing but uncertainty!

Very few students I’ve worked with agree with this upfront, or think of this themselves. We’re not really used to examining the reasons behind why we do or don’t do something.

Our brain doesn’t TELL us “You’re not going to study because you’re afraid”. It just kinda happens that you end up doing something else, being distracted, and before you know it, the time is gone.

I wrote an article and recorded a video on this topic, take a look

Life gets in the way

This one is fairly obvious. There is a lot to do on a daily basis, especially if you’re working and studying.  It is really tough to get everything done on a daily basis that we want done. Add studying into that and life becomes even tougher.

It’s the same as saving money. You have to FORCE it to happen. If you save the money you have ‘left’ at the end of the month, you’ll never save. It has to come first.

You have to find ways to carve out the time BEFORE you plan other things. Leaving studying to whatever time you have left, isn’t going to work. This seems obvious, but it’s far from easy. We need to find ways to set up our lives and habits in a way that ‘forces’ us to do this.

One of the benefits of the Study Coaching I offer is accountability. I require my students to give me feedback on almost a daily basis about what they did yesterday. The ‘reasons’ for not studying start becoming more tough to give when you have to answer for your time to someone else. (It’s like having a personal trainer!)

It’s worth giving this some thought. Understanding why we do, or don’t do, something is a good step in the process of taking active steps to getting what we want.

And what we want, is to NOT procrastinate!

Simple. But not easy!


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