The pressures of university life can encourage procrastination and form mental blocks between you and starting work.
Find your mantra
It's better to produce something rather than nothing.
If you don't shoot you won't score.
Most jobs need completion not perfection.
If the minimum wasn't acceptable it wouldn't be called the minimum.
Every journey begins with a small step.
How can I help myself?
1. Ready, unsteady, go
Don't wait for the perfect moment to start. Begin before you are absolutely ready. Title a document and save it and feel good that you have started.
2. Be playful
Print your documents. Cut bits out and play with ways to piece your work together. Draw a mind map or brainstorm ideas. 'Playing' is a good way of tricking your brain into getting started.
3. Schedule your procrastination
Set an alarm for fifteen minutes, and work until the alarm goes off. Set it again for a fifteen minute break. Repeat, increasing the time you work.
4. Make a plan
Write down your ideas in an unstructured way. Open up a new document and call it 'The plan'. Break down what you need to do into small tasks and write them down. Remember this is for your eyes only - it doesn't have to be perfect!
5. The 'next step'
The mood or energy required to decide on the next step is different to that required to perform it, so keep track of what the 'next action' will be from your plan.
The next step must be something you can act on now; so finding that book from the library is not the next step. The next step is getting dressed.
If you have a number of tasks, write down a list of what you need to do. Rewrite the list in order of priority and achievability. Enjoy it when you tick off a completed task.
7. Allow time for worry
As well as scheduling time to complete your tasks, set aside some time to worry about your work. Do this just before something that will help you stop worrying, like watching a TV programme.
8. Work with others
Working with other people can give you energy. Wanting to help others work can help you focus.
9. Avoid perfectionism
Be reasonable in your expectations of yourself. Strict expectations may sabotage your progress or cause you to rebel.
10. Energise yourself physically
Jump around, shake your arms and legs, do a headstand. It is very hard to be anxious when you are doing something silly.
11. Monitor negative thoughts and catastrophic thinking
Write down the thoughts that are leading you to a scary conclusion. Is the catastophe really inevitable? If you are putting yourself down, stop it. Rephrase your thoughts into something more positive.
12. Reward yourself
Plan a treat for when you have accomplished a task.
13. Eat well, sleep well, relax well, play well
No one can just work all the time. To be effective you need to look after yourself physically. Schedule time for food, friends, enjoyable activities and sleep.
How can we help?
See our tips for wellbeing. You might also find it helpful to attend one of the following workshops:
- Practical productivity skills
- Pushing through perfectionism
- Pushing through procrastination
- Using anxiety as a positive