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10 ways to beat procrastination and get your dissertation finished on time

15th April 2014
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Michael Tefula, author of Student Procrastination and How to Get a First, knows a thing or two about getting over the absolute, genuine need to watch cat videos that you have every afternoon. Here are his ten top tips…

1. Start Small

Research shows that when people break tasks into smaller steps they procrastinate less. Writing a paragraph is less intimidating and off-putting than writing a page. So start small and work your way up to larger parts of your work.

2. Build Momentum by Doing a Little Everyday

The only way to avoid all-nighters and the stress of last-minute efforts is by spreading your work over a long period of time. By starting small (e.g. a paragraph a day), you will soon feel more motivated to work as you see your work develop into a much larger piece.

3. Don’t Wait on Motivation

No, you won’t feel like it tomorrow. It’s better to get over the pain now by starting today. I guarantee the pain won’t be as bad as you expect it to be. In fact, many students find that when they push past the need to be motivated and work regardless, things gets easier and they become more motivated with time.

4. Stay Active to Stay Focused

Sometimes we put off our work because we do not feel like it. Here’s an alternative that’s better than caffeine: physical fitness. Studies show that people who are in good shape generally have more energy and focus. So if you aren’t ‘feeling like it’ today, a run in the park might energise you more than you think.

5. Don’t Write Yourself Off

Procrastination can be caused by a lack of confidence or a fear of failure. Therefore if you are putting your work off because you are worried about not being good enough, remember this: You made it this far (to the final term or final year of university) and so you are definitely capable of doing well in whatever academic task you are faced with.

6. Try a Social Media Diet

Social media is very addictive and it’s designed to be that way. The urge to check how many likes we have on Instagram or reposts we have on Tumblr can be very tempting. To avoid having to fight such forces, simply take a short hiatus by deactivating the platforms you are most addicted to for a month or two.

7. Use Social Pressure

When we make a public commitment to something, we become more motivated to go through with it. As such, if you are working on a dissertation you could tell your supervisor you will have a draft section for them to review by a certain date. If you have a chapter to revise, telling a friend you will discuss it with them in a week can be a great way of springing yourself to action.

8. Reward Yourself

Our brains have a preference for rewards that are certain and immediate. Unfortunately university work is not structured this way and we avoid doing it because we see no immediate value.

To counter this, be sure to reward yourself every time you complete a section of your work. Some students indulge in a bit of chocolate, others with an episode of Game of Thrones. Find what you like and treat yourself a little every time you complete a milestone.

9. Remind Yourself What Happens When You Procrastinate

Remember the panic of a having to meet a deadline, the stress of an all-nighter to prepare for an exam, and the horror of learning that you have only a few moments left to save yourself. These are not nice feelings and contemplating how you will feel if you don’t start now can help with motivation to get on with your work.

10.  Find Regular Inspiration

The following quote from a famous salesman turned motivation speaker is worth remembering:

 “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing –that’s why we recommend it daily.” Hilary Ziglar

After reading this article I hope you will be more inspired and motivated to work but it is likely the effect will wear off after a while. For this reason, find ways of keeping yourself fired up on a weekly basis. Articles such as this, inspirational quotes, or simply working with students who are highly driven can all help you maintain the motivation required to beat procrastination.




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