Can’t get started? Always finding other things that need doing?

It’s an all too familiar story. We have the best of intentions to get cracking on that assignment and then, having tidied up our room, made that all important trip to the gym and yes of course…”I can’t start this before sending those urgent emails and replying to texts”  – suddenly it’s well after 10pm and there are no words in your Word document.

suddenly it's late and there are no words in your Word document!

suddenly it’s late and there are no words in your Word document!

It’s so draining sitting in front of your laptop all day and achieving little.  The task can hang over you, spoiling your fun and making you feel guilty for not having done it by now.  So…how do we conquer procrastination, ignite our enthusiasm and recapture our ability to concentrate?

Helpful tips:

Try meeting a study buddy from your course or form a group.  Sit down together and chat about the topic, throw some ideas around and answer each other’s questions. Soon enough confusing aspects become clear and you will feel more motivated.
Galvanise your inspiration, begin with the part of the subject that you find most interesting, then add the other bits around it.
Break down the assignment into short, bite-sized chunks that are easier to manage. Then give yourself limited timed targets in which to complete them. In this time let nothing distract you, just focus on the task and enjoy the distractions in your breaks – which brings us on to…
Take regular breaks to recharge your batteries and improve your ability to concentrate.

The university campus has some great places to take break, have a walk and recharge your batteries

The university campus has some great places to take break, have a walk and recharge your batteries

 Calling all perfectionists out there – Good enough is good enough. Waiting for that light-bulb moment so that it’ll be ‘perfect’, can block you from getting started. You’re not writing the definitive work on the subject…yet! Just get writing and you can edit it at the end.
Make your targets SMART: Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic; Timeframe. By gaining a sense of satisfaction from completing something in the time boundary, we feel more motivated to do it again another time.
Remember to reward yourself in some way for your accomplishments. It’s encouraging to have something to look forward to, and the ‘procrastinator’ part of you will soon learn that it’s worthwhile to get on with things.

If you would like more support with organising your academic work, please see the Study Advisers’ webpage: which is packed with loads of helpful information.

Tired of being Tired?

Don't let your bed space get taken over by the rest of your life!

Don’t let your bed space get taken over by the rest of your life!

After a summer away from uni, perhaps working full-time, or reverting back to family routines, the return to student life, let alone Welcome Week, can come as a bit of a shock to the system! One issue that is consistently brought to us here in the Counselling Department, is the difficulty that many students have with their sleep patterns. Unfortunately student life is not really conducive to a regular 9 – 5 lifestyle, and thus it can be really easy to slip into a habit of late nights, and long lie-ins…and then struggle when 9am lectures are scheduled.
If this sounds like you, try the following tips:
Keep to a set bed-time; if you are a night owl and prefer to go to bed around midnight, that’s fine, but make sure that you don’t then over-compensate by getting up at lunch-time the following day. Our bodies produce a hormone called melatonin that helps us to sleep; levels start to rise as the sun goes down, and then decrease as the sun rises meaning that you will be working against, instead of with, your natural sleep hormones if you go to bed as the sun is coming up.

use an alarm clock - not your mobile phone!

use an alarm clock – not your mobile phone and try to get up when your alarm goes off

Get up when your alarm goes off; repeatedly hitting snooze doesn’t provide you with refreshing sleep, it just messes up your ability to go to sleep in the evening! Our bodies are designed to get the most refreshing sleep early on in our sleep cycle, so dozing does not provide the quality of sleep that you need. It’s better to get up when the alarm goes off, and if you still feel tired, just schedule in an earlier bedtime.

Use an alarm clock, not your phone – that way you will not be tempted to check it through the night, and you won’t be woken up by alerts sounding during the small hours. Although research is conflicting on this, there is also some evidence to suggest that the blue-light of the phone screen can interfere with your production of melatonin as well.