Exam Tip #3: Beating Your Worst Enemy
Updated: Apr 20
In my previous blog, I pointed out that today is the best day to start your exam preparations.
So what’s stopping you?
In a nutshell: Procrastination.
Procrastination, the art of putting off something until ‘later’, is probably more responsible for stopping people from getting what they want than anything else in the universe.
If you want to succeed in life, procrastination is your worst enemy.
If you can learn how to confront it and win, you are learning not only a great skill for revising but also a great skill that will serve you well for the rest of your life.
But what’s wrong with a little procrastination every now and then?
Let me explain.
Imagine three friends, Adam, Ben and Chris. These three friends have to carry three boxes—one box each. Each box is quite heavy, but not too heavy. And our three friends walk along in a line, one behind the other, carrying their respective box.
All is fine until Adam at the back and feeling a little lazy, says, “Oof, I don’t want to carry this box anymore” and he passes it to the person in front, Ben.
Ben is now carrying twice the load, while Adam has nothing. So as he is now carrying more than his fair share, he soon tires. He has to give his two boxes to someone else, Chris.
Chris now finds he has three boxes. It’s too much. He collapses under the weight of his unfair and unbearable load.
Think of Ben as your present-self, Adam as your past-self and Chris as your future-self. The boxes represent the work each one of you has to do. If you share the work, doing each day what you can, all is well.
But once you start putting off until tomorrow tasks you could do today, you’re naïvely overlooking that your future-self will also have other stuff to do tomorrow, not just the things from today you’re delegating.
After all, unforeseen tasks pop up.
The sooner you start being nice to your future-self, the sooner you’ll find your past-self is being nice to you.
‘But it’s not that easy!’ I hear you think.
That’s why I’m giving you my top ten tricks to tackle procrastination.
1. Reward yourself with a small prize. If you are able to associate completing the task with a celebration, you’ll have a more positive attitude towards it.
2. Make a solemn promise to someone who will make you feel bad if you don’t keep it.
3. Put your revision time into your agenda or timetable. You are more likely to do a task if it’s written down.
4. Get someone to withhold the remote for the TV or (even better) the new Wi-Fi password until you have revised.
5. Just focus on doing a little to get you started. It’s the enormity of the task that’s off-putting. By saying to yourself that you’re just going to read one page or answer one question or make one revision card, it’s easier to get started. Once you’ve started, it’s much easier to keep going.
6. Leave yourself a reminder. Stick a sheet of paper to your computer screen saying ‘30 minutes of revision before you remove this’.
7. Set out your stuff so it’s all there, conveniently waiting for you when you get home.
8. Use positive peer pressure by teaming up with someone who will also be revising the same time as you.
9. Don’t break the chain. Get a calendar and cross off the day with a satisfyingly thick black marker when you’ve spent your allotted time revising. See how many days you can go without missing a day.
10. Look back at your answers to my blog Exam Tips #1 . Remember how important these exams are and what you are risking by procrastinating.
The way to hell is paved with good intentions. The way to avoid getting the best grades you’re capable of is to put off revising until tomorrow.
Tip 3: Don’t procrastinate. Do today’s revision today.