• Simple and Practical Writing Tips from Real Writers

Procrastination and selective amnesia when it comes to doing the work we need to do at university are common characteristics of students. Not good ones, of course. They usually result in work not being done at all and a fail mark or work handed in late with a penalty. To avoid these scenarios, here are some tips to be more productive at university:

1. Make a time management chart

Preparing for the week or two weeks ahead is the best way to approach your education. You can buy a calendar with enough space to write in the tasks for each day, or make one yourself. The hard work is actually filling it in. If you have an assignment due in two weeks, write in the date you must start working on it, and of course the due date. And then in fill in the other days you will work on it.

So, if your genetics assignment’s due date is 25 May, you must write START GENETICS ASSIGNMENT on 15 May. Then, fill in GENETICS on the days you will work on it, for example, 17 May, 20 May, 23 May and 24 May. You have now given yourself 5 days to work on it.

If you follow the plan diligently, you’ll not only get your work in on time, you’re likely to have written a much better essay than a rushed job the night before.

If you want your essay to be checked by an essay writing company before you hand it in, you need to leave enough turnaround time for this. Check with the assignment writing company how long they will need to edit and proofread your essay beforehand, so there’s no mad rush at the end.

2. Limit the time you spend on social media and reading your emails

So many of us are addicted to our email and social media. Picking up our smart phone, tablet or laptop is the first thing we do as we wake, and the last thing we touch before we go to sleep. Scrolling through Facebook is absorbing – so absorbing that we find ourselves saying: Okay, I’ll just read one more article. Just another five minutes. Before we know it, hours have gone by, and we’re no closer to getting down to the essay writing task.

The solution: Be strict with yourself. Limit the time you spend to 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at night. An hour a day should be more than enough to stay in touch with our friends, all 589 of them. Switch off your email so that it doesn’t ping all day long. Ditto with your Whatsapp or other messaging services. Put your head down and concentrate.

3. Get enough sleep and exercise

This may seem a contradiction, because now we are asking you to spend time away from your desk, sleeping and exercising, instead of killing yourself 24/7. The fact is: while we sleep, we think. Our brains play with our problems and mull over them. Quite often, we will awake knowing how to approach an essay, because our mind has been subconsciously dealing with it all night.

The same is true for certain types of exercise, especially solitary exercise such as walking or jogging or cycling. Instead of listening to music, allow your mind to wander about the essay you have to write. It may be surprising, but often the structure of an essay will come to you after a spinning session. That’s partly because your body and hormones are being stimulated as you exercise, and partly once again, that your subconscious is being active.

4. Shop or go to movies as a reward

Denying ourselves something is the quickest way to wanting that thing. So, restricting doing the things you love to only after you’ve done some university related work, usually works a treat (excuse the pun). By giving yourself incentives to be productive, you will encourage yourself to work smart. The incentives should naturally be something you really like to do, like shop or eat out, as otherwise they won’t work that well.

5. Find the place where you’re most productive

Some of us are creatures of habit. We need the same desk at which to study, with the same chair. Our coffee cup must be to the right, and our books alphabetized. If you’re one of these, make sure that these are available when you want to get down to work and be productive.

Other people find it helps to vary the study environment. They enjoy being in new surroundings and are able to get absorbed in their work and not be distracted.

Other people like to study in groups. They get together at set times with other students following the same course and discuss the work, bounce ideas off each other and even test each other.

Studying is not difficult if you have the right attitude and follow these simple study tips to avoid procrastination and be productive.