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Time management: avoid distractions and procrastination

One of the simple ways we lose time is by getting distracted or by putting off the task in hand. Here are some tips for dealing with this:

  • Work out when you are most productive and you will naturally avoid being distracted or procrastinating. Focus your effort at the time that works best for you and do your most difficult work when you concentrate best
  • Take regular breaks, no-one can work non-stop! Try short bursts of active reading or writing, rewarded with short breaks
  • Work out where you study best, whether this is in the Library, at home or somewhere else. Be aware of where you avoid distraction best
  • Introduce some real distraction strategies: switch off your phone, go to the Library, use a timer - whatever works for you
  • Plan how long you will work for and what you will achieve, then reward yourself with a break once you have done it
  • Tackle email: turn off alerts and fix a time to deal with your emails, rather than having them pop up all day. Then deal with urgent messages straight away so you can delete them and add anything else to your to-do list
  • Deal with social media: turn off Facebook / Twitter or whatever else distracts you and focus on your work
  • Have a system for your files and notes and keep a tidy desk, then you can get straight down to work rather than having things to "sort out" first
  • If you're struggling with procrastination, consider getting a study buddy: someone who you can work alongside (though not necessarily on the same task) and take breaks with
  • If you still feel your time management is out of control, try keeping a time log: it will show you where you spend or waste your time and might help to identify distractions for you
  • Learn from your mistakes: did you struggle to meet the deadline for your last essay? If so, plan out your next one better. And reward yourself when things go well!

Procrastination often occurs when we feel daunted or unsure about a task. Use our decision tree (PDF) to find some possible solutions for situations in which you feel stuck.

Skills@Library also runs regular sessions where you can simply write quietly in a focused environment. These Shut up and Write sessions run throughout term time, so check the Skills@Library workshops for more information.