So, learning to knit ISN’T going to help with my essay?

Procrastination-001 by  Ludie Cochrane (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Procrastination-001 by Ludie Cochrane (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Sorry procrastinators and those who thrive on the adrenaline rush of last-minute essay completion – the results are in and it’s not good news. A study out of the University of Warwick Business School has shown that students who hand in assignments at the last minute face a five per cent drop in marks when compared with those who submitted 24 hours or more before it was due.

The paper, Time of submission: An indicator of procrastination and a correlate of performance on undergraduate marketing assignments, which was presented at the European Marketing Academy conference investigated 504 first-year students’ and 273 third-year students’ end of term assignments

Work handed in ahead of schedule was far more likely to be awarded a distinction than work not handed in until much closer to the deadline. The average mark dropped by the hour until those handing in the paper at the last minute produced the worst results. Those that literally handed work in at the last minute could see as much as a five per cent drop on score, from 64.17 to 59.00 — taking them a whole grade lower.

Image provided by David Arnott and Scott Dacko, of Warwick Business School http://www.wbs.ac.uk/news/leaving-essays-to-the-last-minute-ruins-students-grades/

So what can you do about your procrastination habit?  How do you stop yourself from meandering into the depths of pointless activities, random hobbies (not that there isn’t value in knowing how to knit) and delaying the inevitable task ahead?

It’s all about time management.

  • The nifty QUT Library Assignment Calculator can keep you on track to complete an assignment with plenty of time to spare – including reminding you to take breaks and have some fun along the way!
  • For a more long-range view of how to manage your time across the semester, the QUT Library Semester & Weekly Planning guide can help you see at a glance what’s looming and help you juggle all your competing priorities.
  • For specific essay help, the Library Writing an Essay guide as well as our most popular resource, the Writing Structure Overview, specifically address the requirements of essay writing.

Also, check out our related QUT Library Blog post Writing great Assignments for more tips and save the knitting until semester break.

Getting over that final hurdle : Exam Prep

It’s that time of year again, when the end of the year is so close you can almost touch it, but before you can really relax, you have to deal with the dreaded final exams. We wouldn’t blame you if you felt like doing this:

But before you do, remember that the end is in sight, and before you know it, you’ll be kicking back on the beach, exams a distant memory. Here are a few hints for avoiding stress and getting through the final weeks of semester.

The easiest way to avoid (or manage) stress in these final weeks is to have a study plan and gather all the important information (such as date, time & location of your exam) as soon as possible so that it doesn’t cause unnecessary panic the night before or the morning of.

Some study tips to help you prepare in the days and weeks before your exam include:

  • Take advantage of the revision questions at the end of chapters in your textbook (if available);
  • Be active, not passive. Avoid just reading over your notes or textbook – highlight, underline, rewrite or create concept maps instead;
  • Revise regularly, not just a couple of days or the day before. The more you revise, the easier it becomes to remember;
  • Make mnemonics (words or sentences to help you remember), charts or flash cards;
  • Eliminate distractions;
  • Chunk your time, and take regular breaks;
  • Write your own exam questions and swap them with a friend.

On the day of your exam:

  • Get to your exam early, and ensure you’ve got the right materials with you, including your student card;
  • Use any perusal time to identify questions you can answer easily and answer these first;
  • Read all questions at least twice;
  • Leave plenty of time to review at the end.

If you’ve run out of time to do much of the above, you might like to check out this structured approach to cramming.

Finding it difficult to get motivated? Try these handy hints from Counselling about overcoming procrastination.

And check out Studywell for tips about preparing for different types of exams, including multiple choice, short answer, and essay.

Making the most of SWOT VAC

Despite the best of intentions, procrastination can take over a SWOT Vac. Suddenly all the time set aside for revision has dwindled away.

So what are the best ways to migrate from the nation of the Procrasti (as the QUT Student Share house blog brilliantly describes it)  and get back to being productive?

Here are a few of our favourite procrastination killers from the web (some tried and tested, others we haven’t quite got around to yet…)

  • Now is not the time to learn to knit (or keep a clear idea of your priorities). There are some assignments to which anything seems preferable (including cleaning the oven/bedroom/pantry/wardrobe). This is where having a plan or a list of achievable goals can make it easier to stop putting things off. To-do apps like teux deux or Remember the Milk are really useful for this too.
  • Break bad habits. Identifying what triggers distractions can limit procrastination. Trial a Facebook and Twitter free zone. Turn off email notifications. Change the environment where you study. For example, try treating revision like a job; take advantage of a quiet spot in the library for a shift, and then go home and relax.

QUT Counselling also provides support if procrastination is becoming increasingly problematic. You can download their procrastination factsheet or find out about their services on the QUT Counselling website.

While procrastination can be a difficult habit to kick, there are a lot of suggestions and tips you can try to limit its effect on your study. Let us know what has worked for you. What would you recommend to others?