How to Handle Revision Procrastination

As exam season draws nearer, revision is likely at the forefront of your mind – or, at least, it should be. Procrastination is something we all fall prey to at one stage or another. When you have the whole internet at your fingertips, sitting down and focusing on one topic can be just as much of a struggle as your actual exams. Here are a few of the best ways to help navigate yourself into the right head space for exam season.


Do the least appealing task first
Starting your revision with what you want to do least may sound like the opposite of what you want to hear. However, it is often when people reach the topics they find most challenging that they begin to struggle with procrastination. Whether it’s formulae or vocabulary, take a moment before you begin studying to rank your revision tasks from most to least difficult, then try to tackle the topics in this order. If you overcome the most challenging areas first you will find yourself more motivated to continue, knowing that your next task will be easier than what came before.

Don’t wait to be in the ‘right mood’
One of the easiest things students tell themselves to delay revision is that they are not in the right mindset to revise today. In truth, you will rarely ever be in the ‘right mood’ to revise. Putting off revision until this happens initiates a negative pattern of behaviour which, if allowed to continue, may hinder your entire revision period. To resolve this, try to set a rigid start time for your revision rather than waiting for a productive mood to strike. The stricter you are with this start time, the less procrastination-guilt you will experience.

Go electronics free
Sometimes it is easy to argue that you need a computer to revise. While it’s true that the internet holds some invaluable studying resources, if possible, try to limit your access to electronics while revising. A five-minute break on social media can easily evolve into a half an hour break, which can turn into a whole day spent browsing the web when you planned on perfecting French verbs. Consider shutting all electronics you don’t need in another room or utilising apps like ‘Cold Turkey’ to temporarily block access to online distractions.

Restart your day
One of the best ways to regain control of your procrastination habit is to look at your day as having two beginnings: one when you wake up and one in the early afternoon. Structuring your day in this manner allows you to reassess your progress and – if procrastination has severely impacted how much work you have completed – your priorities.

Switch up your revision technique
While you are hopefully already using techniques that suit your style of learning, repeating the same activity everyday can be frustrating. If you find yourself putting off work, change up your method of revision. Trade flashcards for spider diagrams, or past papers for teaching what you’ve already learnt to a family member. Varying your study routine helps your brain stay alert and active.

Anything is better than nothing
Sometimes procrastination is a sign that you need a break. If you find yourself struggling to work despite trying all of these methods, take some time to relax and return to your work refreshed and, hopefully, more motivated than before. A small amount of quality revision is often better than hours of pouring over facts you won’t remember the next day. Science suggests that regular, small breaks help you retain information better than cramming in a whole day’s work. Remember to find the right balance between trying your best and pushing yourself too hard.