Study Skills 101: Productive Procrastination

How to master essential study skills and not spend your life watching cat videos on YouTube.

15 May 2015

Study skills can be learned and the procrastination struggle is real.

There are ways to overcome the temptation to disappear down an internet rabbit-hole filled with cats, LOLz and videos of sneezing pandas. The answer is the king of all study skills, productive procrastination: the art of getting stuff done while ignoring that other thing that needs to be done.

Clean your workspace

While many of us belong to the ‘creative chaos’ camp, research shows that a cluttered desk can make it tougher for the brain to focus, so give that space a little zhoosh. Do some filing, throw away the burrito wrappers and wash those coffee mugs that you forgot you owned because they were buried under an Amazon forest worth of paper. While you’re at it open a window. If you’re a laptop-on-the-bed kind of studier, you could maybe give an hour or two to crafting a study nook out of milk crates and cushions.

Make a wall planner (A.K.A crafternoon)

Get crafty – don’t go too crazy though

This is particularly handy at study time. Get a mammoth piece of cardboard and divide it into date squares and jot down a plan of what you need to achieve. Let your inner craft monster out and colour code that piece of functional art. Add in classes, study times, breaks and commitments. And a splash of glitter because study can be fabulous. A visual (and beautiful) reminder can help keep you on task and give your study skills a real boost.

Life admin day

Life administration days are important. Go through your inbox, unsubscribe from all of those daily deal sites that seemed like such a good idea at the time, but are now weighing heavily on your ability to find emails of importance. Clean your fridge – If you keep sniffing last week’s take-away and putting it back because it seems too risky, it’s probably time to let it go. Do your taxes, upgrade your health insurance, update your address on the electoral role. Future you will be so grateful.


to do list
Not a helpful list

To-do lists are crucial, so make a couple. Put ‘start a list’ at the top of the page, then tick that bad boy. Feels good doesn’t it?

One list can have all the big ticket items, like all the assignments that need finishing (or starting), and the other can be a daily list. Make this list a biggie. Include everything from getting out of bed, brushing your teeth and smiling at someone on the bus. Crossing things off a list is motivating and pumps you up to do the other less-pleasant things you also need to get done.

Move it, move it

Get out there and move your body
Get out there and move your body

If your mind is starting to stray, Facebook isn’t going to help bring back your focus. Before you fall into a spiral of stalking your ex and their exes, get up and walk around. Do 20 minutes of physical activity. Get those endorphins flowing.

Just start doing that thing

Whatever it is you’re avoiding just start. Sometimes all you need is the first line to get the creative juices flowing.

Are your study skills holding you back? Check out a few different study techniques that might help you get those assessments off your desk.

© TAFE Queensland Brisbane 2018.
RTO 0275 | CRICOS 03020E.