Problems studying and procrastination
The way in which academic studies are conducted may vary considerably from one country to another. At times it may be difficult to understand what is expected of you when you start studying in Sweden with only a few lectures, a great deal of individual responsibility and plenty of group work. Perhaps you are not used to this and it may take time to adapt to everything new.
It is not unusual for ambitious and high-achieving students to initially encounter problems and be unable to perform at the level they are accustomed to. This can be very frustrating and cause a person to doubt their own ability. It is important to understand that this is a natural reaction and it is likely to improve as you acclimatise.
It may be helpful to be prepared for it to be challenging and to reduce the demands you place on yourself during your initial period in Lund. There is a risk of ending up in a vicious circle if you start falling behind, which may result in feelings of stress and anxiety. It is therefore a good idea to seek help early on:
Improve your study skills at the Academic Support Centre
Many students have problems coping with their studies and suffer due to a lack of study skills or difficulties writing academic papers. The Academic Support Centre at Lund University specifically works with these issues.
Procrastination is when we consciously postpone things even though we know that it will have negative consequences. Procrastination is something that everyone deals with to a greater or lesser extent. However, students have been shown to procrastinate more than others.
While it may not result in significant consequences for many, it could become a problem at times. Procrastination can lead to lower academic performance, unnecessarily high stress levels before an exam as well as increased anxiety and low mood.
You are not alone
The fact that students procrastinate more than others is a result of the unique circumstances surrounding university studies. University studies often entail everything from irregular routines and a lack of feedback in the learning process and on performance, to long gaps between exams and many social distractions.
People have different sensitivities and different reasons for postponing commitments. The activities we postpone usually seem difficult in the short-term, while the things we tend to do when procrastinating feel better in the short-term. However, in the long-term, the opposite could be the case.
Test your mental health
As mentioned above, procrastination is a common behaviour. Sometimes it may be the result of a prolonged period of depression or feeling low. Take a test on your living habits and mental health to gain an understanding of your well-being.
What can I do myself?
While there are various reasons for procrastinating, there are a few things that can make the situation easier for most people:
- Create routines: aim for a study routine that you are comfortable with and which makes you feel good. Ideally, your routine should follow a consistent pattern every day or several days a week. Established routines allow us to avoid putting as much effort into getting started. Also think about what you need to do in order to stick to your study routine.
- Try to identify when you are most likely to study and when you are most susceptible to procrastination. Aim to study when you have the best conditions to do so.
- Set concrete goals and milestones. Goals help us to maintain our focus and motivation. Keep in mind that setting concrete goals allows you to clearly identify when a goal has been achieved. You may want to set milestones in the short-term. For example, if an exam is a long way off, you can set the following milestone: “study between 10:00 and 13:00 on Mondays and Tuesdays”. It is also important to set reasonable goals which you can actually achieve; this is what will motivate you.
- Plan short study periods of around 25–45 minutes and take regular short breaks.
- Practice enduring discomfort; you can still study despite a lack of motivation.
- Get rid of your distractions. Distractions, such as social media can be enticing and affect your concentration. Put your phone on silent when you study.
- Encourage yourself and recognise your progress. We need to feel that we have delivered on our commitments and not just when we complete and submit examinations.
- Involve other people in your studies. Turn your classmates into colleagues. It will make your studies simpler and more pleasant.
- Reconsider your working environment. Choose to study in a place that you associate with work and getting things done. Avoid choosing a place that you associate with recovery, such as the bed or sofa.
- Make sure to take a break from your phone and digital technology when you are free. Try to establish good screen habits since life as a student entails a lot of screen time.
When digital technology takes control of you and your time
Digital technology, such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets are now a common feature of daily life. It may be helpful to limit your screen time in order to have more time for other things, for example studying or working out.
While we may think that multitasking – the ability to do more than one thing at time – is effective, it has been proven to reduce our effectivity. The brain is designed to do one thing at a time.
If you want to learn more about what you can do, watch our film on procrastination.
Join the Student Health Centre’s procrastination group
The Procrastination Group is intended for international students who have difficulty organising, or repeatedly postpone, work related to their studies. The purpose of the group is to work together to reduce procrastination and receive support in behavioural change. The group operates throughout the academic year.
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