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Getting past the procrastination stage when studying

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We've all been there before…

You're staring at your computer, textbook open and highlighted on your desk, notes sprawled out in front of you, and you can't seem to make yourself start working. You sit there for a few minutes, maybe even an hour or two, procrastinating and telling yourself that you'll start "soon". But "soon" never comes.

Sound familiar? If you're struggling with procrastination when studying, know that you're not alone – and there are ways to get past it.

Understand why you're procrastinating - are you worried about failing?

If you’re facing procrastination, it could be due to either worry of failing or you're struggling to understand the material. Before tackling this challenge, it’s essential to understand what the true root cause is to create an effective strategy. Instead of jumping into things that usually don’t motivate you, lean in and focus on reframing your narrative by asking yourself some important questions - why do you want to complete a task? What benefit will you gain from mastering this material?

This step may seem daunting, but gives a more complete perspective on why doing something is beneficial for you. Once you have built up enough motivation, and positively reinforced the importance of what you are doing, it makes taking action a lot easier.

Make a study plan and manageable schedule

Making a study plan and schedule that takes your end goal into focus can be a daunting task. But it is an essential step in achieving the success you’re after. Whether that’s revising for an exam, or trying to understand a new topic, breaking down your tasks into manageable pieces can make the process less overwhelming and more organised.

When creating a study plan, think about how much time on average you need to dedicate every day or week. Of course, this depends on what you’re studying and whether you’re an apprentice or not, but our general recommendation is usually to aim for 7- 8 hours a week of studying. Set time aside - for example, a couple of hours in the morning - to make sure that you're setting practical goals with tangible results.

Having achievable objectives will give you measurable progress which will motivate you in taking the next step during your studies. With our Kaplan materials, the topics are divided into bite-size chunks to help you plan your study time. Follow the structure, and always ask for help if needed.

Finally, allowing some downtime during your studying to sustain long-term motivation for those more ambitious goals is key for a successful study plan.

Find a study buddy or group to help keep you accountable

Having a support system can be invaluable when it comes to staying on track. Particularly if you are studying independently, with materials only or through an independent online course, it can be difficult to feel like you're not alone. But there is so much support out there for you.

Find someone, or a group of individuals, who are in a similar position to you. If you're studying via a Kaplan course, contact the Academic Support Team who can help with content.

Don't forget about social media platforms too, there is extra support available outside of the MyKaplan platform. We have a Facebook group and a Reddit forum for those studying AAT so that learners can come together and discuss any concerns that they may have with their studies.

People who are in the same position as you can connect and hold each other accountable for studying and keeping up with deadlines. Use these various platforms to foster an environment of success!

Remove distractions

If you're feeling distracted while trying to learn, it might be time to get serious about taking control of your study environment. Turning off your phone can help reduce any urge to grab it and check what's happening on social media. Turning off the television will help eliminate the temptation to take a break from studying and jump into something more fun instead.

You should create a comfortable environment that promotes focus, and helps you relax – this could include playing some chill-out music, bringing in a plant for decoration, or lighting an aromatherapy candle. With these steps accomplished, you'll be ready to focus on your studies.

Download studying applications

If you are going to struggle to put your phone away, you may as well put it to good use!

There are mobile apps out there that are designed to get past the procrastination stage. Have a browse at the available apps, but a fun one that we would recommend is Forest.

This app will allow you to stay focused while a tree grows in the background. If you stop focusing - your tree will stop growing. The Forest mobile app partners with a real tree-planting organisation (Trees for the Future), so when you spend virtual coins that you earn, the team will donate them to plant real trees. So, you can study, stay focused, and know that you're benefiting both yourself and the planet.

Tree in pot illustration

Take breaks when needed, but don't let them go on too long

We all need breaks from time to time. A few deep breaths and a bit of movement can do wonders for your focus levels when you’re stuck in an intense work session. The problem arises when we let those short breaks turn into full-blown procrastination sessions, as it can be hard to get back on track after taking so much time off.

Try to study for 25 - 60 minutes, schedule a short break to let your mind refresh, and then start again. Scheduling regular five-minute breaks throughout the day is a great way to ensure that you are taking the right amount of rest without compromising your productivity, and it can also help the time pass by.

Listen to your body – if you’re feeling drained, then take some extra idle time – but try not to let those rest periods slip into hours of Netflix binges or aimless scrolling through your phone. If used responsibly, mindful breaks can boost your productivity and help you make the most of your day.

Reward yourself for completing tasks on your study plan

Achieving your goals may be hard work, but nothing motivates us like a reward. Plan to do something special for yourself after completing each project. Even small gestures, like reading a chapter of a book you love, or having a cup of herbal tea that relaxes you, can be the motivation boost needed to power through your studies.

Make sure that the rewards are realistic, and not too time-consuming. This will help make studying less daunting while also allowing you to take a step back and appreciate how far you’ve come. Rewarding yourself also nourishes emotional well-being by celebrating every success, which in turn drives further accomplishment.

Ask for help when needed

Whether it's asking your study peers for help, turning to the Academic Support Team, or reaching out to family and friends, there are countless resources available that you can tap into whenever you need support. Sometimes all you need is someone to reassure you that you're on the right track. No matter how you ask for help, reaching out shows that you are determined to do everything in your power to succeed. Don't be afraid of asking for help – everyone needs assistance from time to time.

Did you know?

Kaplan students benefit from Academic Support by Live Chat, email and Request a Callback 7 days a week.

Our Progressional Advisors (formerly known as Learning Coaches) are a great team to reach out to if you're studying through On Demand or Distance Learning either independently or employer-sponsored. The team can help you create a study plan while checking in on your progress from time to time. Take advantage of the support and resources as you never know how much of a difference it will make between passing and failing.

Let's get studying!

It can be tough to get motivated and stay on track when you're trying to learn something new. But with a little bit of organisation and self-discipline, you can overcome any obstacle in your way. If you need additional support, we are here for you. So don't hesitate to reach out if you need help staying on track or getting over a hump in your studies. Remember: you can do it!

Need further advice?

If you need any support regarding your well-being, mental health, or any concerns that you may have, take a look at our well-being resources and support that is available to you.

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