How do you fight procrastination? When you are preparing for something like the LSAT and starting many months in advance, procrastination is a very real and very present foe; it’s easy to get just a couple days behind in your study plan, which turns into a couple of weeks, which turns into CRAM-EVERYTHING-HELP-ME-WHAT-AM-I-GOING-TO-DO?!?! right before test day. It can seem like there’s always enough time to get your LSAT preparation done at some point before the big moment, but trust me: that thought process can be a slippery slope to not hitting your goal score. So let’s talk the two most common types of procrastination, and how to successfully battle them into oblivion.
The “Just One More…” Scenario (Short Term)
Have you ever taken a break from studying (or taken a break from starting to study, let’s be real) and decided to start doing something else: clean your room, have a beer, watch one (1) episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, take a nap, etc.? If you’re like me, it’s happened about a million times. Unfortunately, I am equally good at giving myself “one more” non-study activity ad infinitum as I am at getting distracted from what I’m supposed to be doing. One episode becomes an all night marathon, as you stare red-eyed at your computer and have wikipediaed the entire cast, crew, and random extra into oblivion. One “power nap” becomes a luxurious sleep of fourteen hours. One beer becomes hanging out with your roommates, talking through the night. One chore in your apartment becomes a frantic, all-night CLEANSTRAVAGANZA!
The solution: Before you start an activity during a study break, set a duration and stick to it. If you are taking a thirty minute break, that’s what you get. But also set an amount of time you will be studying before your next break; you want to know how Uncle Phil (R.I.P. James Avery) ended up saving the day in a “To Be Continued…” situation? That’s cool; in two hours, you’ll find out. It’s a tough ask, because we are the generation of immediate gratification, but as Kelly Clarkson tells us, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Trust me, you might even end up enjoying the long-forgotten feeling of suspense and having something to look forward to, when you turn your distracting weakness into a great motivating strength.
The “There’s So Much Time…” Paradigm (Long Term)
Let’s assume you are studying for the June LSAT, and right now it is mid-January. June looks, feels, sounds really, really far away; and it is, right now. Trust me, however, once June hits, it will feel like no time at all has gone by. Falling for the distorted view of time that the present affords us is a terrible idea; this isn’t The Shining, and that hallway does not go on forever. In hindsight, you will rage against what a fool your present self was, thinking you had all the time in the world. But we can force that sense of urgency into our mental landscape, and resist the siren song of some kind of LSAT version of staying “forever young”.
The solution: It’s a long term LSAT study schedule; you knew it would be. Here’s the real key; instead of just setting up a study schedule that says something along the lines of: Monday, 3 hours; Tuesday, 2 hours; Wednesday, 1 hour, set up specific, achievable, weekly goals. Sure, we know your long term goal is a score increase, but what about your goal for the week of February 2nd? Maybe it’s to get 10 assumption questions right, or to get all the questions for a logic game completed in 10 minutes. Whatever it is, let that small goal feed your urgency. It’s not a goal that will be here next week, so it’s now or never.
Let us know how you tend to procrastinate in the comments, and we will help you out with some study pointers to kick those bad habits and get exactly where you need to be when test day comes roaring into town. You can do it!