Finals with pictures of books stacked

How to beat Procrastination: Exam Edition

Let’s face it, it can be ridiculously difficult to motivate yourself to study for yet another set of exams. Youtube, Instagram, and those constant snapchats from your friends, who are also procrastinating, can get in the way of getting yourself ready for testing. You may feel rising panic and anxiety, knowing that your exams draw closer and closer each minute. I’ve been in this situation so many times before it’s become second nature, which is why I have compiled a list of ideas to help motivate you when you’re feeling the exam slump come around. Keep reading to find out how to beat procrastination once and for all!
  1. Why are you procrastinating?
Figuring out the cause of your distraction is the first step into beating it. Some of the most common reasons for procrastinating are;
  • you’ve become convinced that your class is beyond your abilities
  • you find the topic or subject of your class utterly boring
  • you’re waiting for the perfect time to start (hint: there is no perfect time)
  • studying has become so overwhelming that you don’t know where to start
Spend some time reflecting on what exactly is in the way of you getting your studying done. This will help you figure out how you’re feeling and help decide what steps need to be taken next. Personally, the reason I put off studying is because it seems too overwhelming, which is where you continue to number 2.
  1. Break it into pieces
The biggest cause of procrastination is that studying seems overwhelming, and you just don’t know where to start. This is when you need to break each task into smaller pieces. Don’t put “study for ENG287” on your to-do list, instead, start chapter by chapter, week by week, until you slowly put a dent in the amount of studying you have to do. I like to review week by week, so that I am studying the content in the order it was taught to me. 2) Study in short bursts This method is called “spaced learning”, and the idea behind it is that the studying will involve the creation of memories, and the neurons in your brain will remember the information better. I have found that studying using the Pomodoro method ( really helps improve my productivity and helps me retain more information come exam time. 3) Exercise and feed your brain To increase motivation, I use the app Lumosity to indulge in a couple of brain games to help me feel like I’m doing something to ace my exams. Nutrition is also an important aspect of training your brain. My favourite snack foods include berries, sunflower seeds, and dark chocolate. 4) Schedule breaks and relaxation This may seem obvious, but when your focus is entirely on studying, it can be easy to forget that you also need to give your brain time to relax. We learn new information by creating memories. But those memories need time to be formed. That means having gaps between learning spurts. Basically, you need to schedule relaxation to recharge and learn better. I am a self-proclaimed pro at relaxation, or wasting time, as I like to call it. My favourite ways to relax are using meditation, which can be simple using apps like Headspace to guide you into zen mode. Again, this is not a tried and true method, in fact, you’ll find that the best way to study will vary for what kind of person you are. I hope these tips help you get started on your studying, and remember, take a deep breath, and do the best you can, the rest is up to our TA’s. Good luck, U of T!  

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