18 procrastination-busting ways to stop stalling your revision

student distracted by smartphone

What do you do when just about anything else seems more appealing than studying?

You know you're meant to be revising - obviously. But somehow scrolling through your phone and organising your entire bedroom just seem so much more appealing. Procrastination bites and motivation seems impossible to find.

Over to members of the The Student Room's community. Every student has been there, so we asked the community to share their advice on how to get past the urge to timewaste. Here's what they had to say.

1. Get into the right headspace

First, get into a positive mindset. Stop thinking about those low marks you got on that test. If others can do it, you can too. You just have to give it your best shot.


Think ahead, and see yourself getting those high grades. You can do this, it’s achievable! 


2. Discover what motivates you

Think of some of the reasons you want to do well. Remind yourself of these when you feel yourself slacking. Perhaps you're aspiring to go to a particular school or enter a certain career. Whether you want to prove people wrong, prove yourself wrong or make your parents proud – remember these things when you're revising.


Your first step is motivation. Motivation for getting the grades in the first place. Perhaps you need the grades to get into your dream university. Picture that university in your mind every time you feel like giving up or procrastinating. Keep thinking of where this will lead to.


This is what helps me the most: have something such as a picture, quote or anything that keeps you motivated and inspired to revise and do well.


3. Set a goal and work out how to achieve it

Get inspiration and get to work. It's important to discover what you're working towards, but more importantly, its crucial to plan out what it takes to get there. Create a map to meeting your goal (be it a certain number of A*s or a university place) write out what it takes to get there, and start.


Maybe take some time to write down in a notebook your goals for the future. Make sure these are things that excite you but are beneficial to you at the same time.

For example; what job you want in the future, do you want a family, do you want money and financial stability in the future etc. You could read through these every time you feel demotivated just to give you a boost.


4. Pair up with someone else

Find a study buddy. What's better than using peer pressure to force our generation to do something?

student deep in thought

5. Ditch the technology

Use a revision website blocker to block distracting sites for revision time and stay focused.


There's a wonderful app called Hold which has a chart where you can see how long you've studied each day by how long you've been on hold (which makes you realise that you usually only do about three hours when you think you're doing six...).


6. Stock up on food and drink

Have snacks and drinks to hand so you can't use hunger as an excuse to procrastinate and make a four-course meal.


7. Reward yourself

Every time you finish a page/chapter/revision resource, reward yourself (but not too much). This is the way habits are formed: cue, reward, repeat. If you make this into a habit, well, you'll apparently have no trouble at uni.


Reward yourself as motivation. Have a bit of chocolate after achieving a small goal you've set.


Make a reward system for yourself. When I've done my hours I can watch Netflix. And the fact that I'm going to get to go on my phone after a study session pushes me through it.


8. Make use of real-time study sessions online

Watch study with me videos for motivation.


9. Look forward, not backward

If you didn't get the grades you wanted, don't dwell on it; you can't change the past, but the future is still in your hands.

You should come up with an action plan of what you're going to do to improve on this. Learn from the mistakes you've made in your previous tests to ensure you go into the real exam well prepared. 

Infinite Series

10. Focus on yourself

DON'T compare yourself to others – honestly, I don't know what could be more off-putting.


11. Take short breaks

If you're literally at the point where it's just learning it now, use the 25-5 method. Study for 25 minutes then take a five-minute break. There are free apps you can get so you're not tempted to stay in your break longer. It actually made me feel more productive because I was challenging myself to have learnt up to a certain point by the next break.


Give yourself short breaks every hour or however long it takes you to lose concentration.


12. Try a different learning style

If one day you know you need to revise but can't be bothered, watch videos and talk to friends about the subject.

student struggling for motivation

13. Make a study planner

Spend time preparing a checklist of work to be done before exams – it means you can have smaller targets to work towards. I tend to procrastinate, so I split these into weekly agenda, and then spend quarter of an hour each night making a day's plan for the day after.

Most importantly, don't spend ages on this – it doesn't directly affect your exam grades, so the less time you spend on it the better – but at the same time, you can know where you need to get to, and then take guilt free time off your work once everything is done.


Keep to a schedule. For half term, I've written out a plan of the week so I can get some work done. Grab a calendar or week planner, mark out the things you have planned/want to do (eg open days, going out with friends), and then allocate subjects to the free time you have left.

For me, having it written down in a way that shows that I have to do certain subjects on certain days in order to get everything done motivates me to do stuff rather than procrastinate.


14. Write a daily to-do list

One way to make sure your work gets done is by making a list of things you need to finish by the end of the day.


Keep yourself accountable, write out what you aimed to have gotten done at the end of the day in the morning, in the evening review what you have done and if you've fallen short, critique yourself and address where you've fallen short. This is a lot easier when a friend or family member is holding you to your word.


It helps to create a list of what you need to do. Start with the smaller things to do then get to the bigger tasks. Do a small task then a big task and then a small task again. It might be easier. Don't spend too much time on the list either.


15. Immerse yourself in revision

You need to immerse yourself in your subjects. So if you do maths, set aside time every day or week to do exercises with friends or alone. Once it becomes part of your routine, doing maths itself will become second nature. This works for everything, languages, music, you name it.


16. Make studying appealing

Find something that helps you to concentrate and start to (possibly) enjoy revision. Whether it be listening to some background/quiet music or studying with a friend or making some voice notes that you can listen to on the way to school etc.


If you're into notes and things looking pretty/nice, I highly recommend having a look through Pinterest for study motivation, or even videos on YouTube.

Watching other people study, or looking at really nice notes makes me want to study and also make nice notes.


Make your study space somewhere you actually want to study. I used to hate my work space, it was so boring and empty. But I dressed it up!

I cleaned my dressing table to use as a desk, printed off some motivational quotes, bought a tiny cactus and a candle. Now I have a space that I LOVE being in! It makes me want to study because I'm in such a happy mood around my desk.


17. Use music to keep you going

If listening to music helps you, try instrumental tracks so the lyrics don't distract you from your work.


Music without vocals really works for me whilst revising.


18. Just start

Simply, just start revising. The biggest hurdle to cross is to actually start it. 


The hardest part of revising is starting, so just sit at that table, put your phone away and write something, anything. Three minutes in, you will have your head over the piece of paper totally into it.

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