Your planning survival kit

Fighting procrastination, managing time

14 September 2021 | Education

Mariselle Stofberg and Jeanette Diergaardt

The idea of exams and tests keeps learners up at all hours of the night. You stress about the amount of work ahead, and the stress keeps you from actually completing the work.

This leads to procrastinating, which is a direct result of poor planning. Good time management is essential if you are to handle a heavy workload without excessive stress.

In this guide, we aim to provide you with some useful tips on how to properly plan your time and prevent procrastination of important tasks.

Sonel Ames, a psychology graduate and former school councillor, helped to compile the following tips:

Proper time management and planning

Benefits of time management:

1. Time management helps you to reduce long-term stress by giving you direction when you have too much work to do.

2. It puts you in control of where you are going and helps you to increase your productivity.

Poor time management is a major cause of stress. I’m sure we have all had the feeling that there is too much to do and not enough time. We can start to feel panicky and anxious and lose focus.

Symptoms of stress caused by poor time management

Irritability and mood swings.

Tiredness and fatigue.

Inability to focus or concentrate.

Mental block, memory lapses and forgetfulness.

Lack of, or loss of, sleep.

At worst, withdrawal and depression.

Manage your time more effectively.

Simple steps can result in more effective management of your time:

Better planning

Better prioritising

Delegating tasks to others

Controlling your environment.

Tips for effective studying:

1. Pick a place and time

Everyone has their own idea about the best place and time to study. Whether it's your bedroom a night or the library after school, find a study space and a regular study time that works for you and stick with it.

2. Study every day

If you study a little bit every day, you'll be continually reviewing things in your mind. This helps you understand things. It also helps you avoid the stress of last-minute cramming.

3. Plan your time

It helps to have some plans in motion so you can make the most of your study time.

4. Discover your learning style

Most of us have a preferred way of learning. Get to know the learning style you're most comfortable with and study in the ways you learn best. Note that these styles are just a way to think about different studying techniques – they're not hard and fast rules that say you should only study in one way. Try each of these out and see which ways you prefer.

• Auditory learners prefer to learn by listening. Try reading your notes aloud and discussing them with other people. You might like to record key points and play them back.

• Visual learners prefer to learn by seeing. Try using colours in your notes and draw diagrams to help represent key points. You could try to remember some ideas as images.

• Tactile/kinesthetic learners prefer to learn by doing. Try using techniques like role-playing or building models to revise key points.

5. Review and revise

At least once a week you should go back over the things you've studied in class. Thinking things over can help you to understand the concepts and help you remember when you need them the most.

6. Take breaks

It's important to take breaks while you're studying, especially if you're feeling tired or frustrated. Working too long on a task can actually decrease your performance.

7. Ask for help

If you're stuck on something, or something just doesn't seem to make sense, you can always ask for help. Talk to your teachers or lecturers about the things you don't understand. Talk to your friends and fellow students too.

8. Stay motivated

When you're studying it helps to keep in mind your reasons for doing all this hard work, like a course or career you're working towards. It can help to have something in your study space to remind you of your goals.

9. App it up

There are heaps of apps out there for helping students with all aspects of study. Have a chat with your friends and teachers or lecturers to see which apps they recommend.

10. Look after yourself

You’ll study better if you take care of yourself. Make sure you eat well and get enough sleep and physical exercise. Don't reward yourself with too many sugary or fatty snacks or push yourself to study late into the night. It’s also a good idea to make sure you drink lots of water when you’re studying.

Fighting procrastination

• Procrastination is the act of delaying or putting off tasks until the last minute or waiting until the deadline is close or past to complete an assignment, task or project.

• Procrastination can be dangerous, when it comes to factors such as your academic performance, career prospects, and their mental and physical health.

• Identify what causes your procrastination so you understand how to fight it,

•Use different resources that can help you deal with their procrastination, e.g. different articles.

•Tell the student about relevant anti-procrastination techniques and help them pick their preferred ones.

- Forgive yourself for procrastinating in the past.

- Commit to the task you are given.

- Promise yourself a reward if you completed the task.

- Ask someone to check up on you to see if you are still on track.

- Take things step by step.

- Change the way you think about tasks and projects.

- Minimise distractions on your path.

What do learners say?

Tangeni Hatutale: Come up with a studying timetable a month before the exams. Try to understand what you are studying and believe in yourself.

Really Hamunyela: Use every moment you are given and don’t take things for granted. Focus on where you want to be and what you want to achieve.

Eliaser Shaanika: I manage my time by drawing up a timetable and trying my best to follow it. I try to focus more on the subject at hand and eliminate all the distractions. Have confidence in yourself, set clear goals and develop good studying skills.

From your teacher

Miriam Mutota: Time is very important and you will never be able to save time to use it later. Once you miss it, you miss out on it forever. Plan wisely, manage your time wisely and set up a timetable. Procrastination is a path to a stressful journey and an overworked brain which will lead to less understanding and more confusion during the test or exam.

Have a to-do list. Do revision, plan ahead, be wise with time. Just do it and never make excuses.

If you have a clear vision in life, you will know the importance of every second. Get your syllabus, past question papers, notes, cell phone (optional) and divide your chapters wisely and allocate your time, but also include fun activities to make your day fun.

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