Do you find yourself procrastinating because you're struggling to get into that study mindset? Well, you came to the right place!
Are you a junior student struggling to get organised? In this article, Year 9 Sydney Girls and Matrix student Skye Bui shares her tips to beat procrastination and to get into the study mindset. To help you along, she divulges her secret study tips for Science and Maths!
Sydney Girls High School
Something in Medicine
My dream career is to do something in the medical field (such as a doctor) because it is a field of study I am most interested in doing.
In Year 9, my subjects consisted of the usual core classes:
And my electives:
I will be taking these same subjects for Year 10 next year, except mandatory History will replace the mandatory Geography.
I believe this was due to my new adopted note-taking method and doing Matrix Science courses.
My notes system became more organised, which helped easily find information compared to my old method. I will go through this method in detail later in the article.
Matrix also helped me greatly as it gave me a major head start. Because I knew it was helping the content was easier and more enjoyable to learn.
More specifically, I didn’t do as well as I wanted on my creative writing task.
This was because I spent most of my time focusing on essay-related content instead of creative writing.
My biggest problem in Year 9 was procrastination. Like many others, the hardest thing for me is starting the work or getting into that ‘working mood’ or ‘working mindset’.
Too many times I used my time poorly and pushed my assignments and tasks very close to the deadline.
This meant that the quality of my work was not as great as it could’ve been.
Fortunately, I was able to decrease my procrastination throughout the year, using these 3 main steps:
Write down all the tasks/work you have to do.
This can be written in a diary, on a calendar, on a device, a post-it, or even just a piece of paper.
Write it somewhere that can be seen!
This allows you to see how many things you have to do, and acts as a reminder as well. It also feels quite nice when you’re able to cross out the things you’ve completed.
Personally, I use a whiteboard above my desk to write my things out.
I note down my work and my tasks/assignments separately (to make it less confusing and cluttered) with my assignments listed in chronological order based on their due date.
I also add my task notification sheets so that they are easily visible and accessible.
I tend to complete the most important, most challenging or the most time-consuming tasks first.
This is because I know these tasks will either take a long time to complete, or contribute greatly to my grade.
So, I put more focus on these to finish it as early as possible.
1. Figure your challenging tasks
My challenging tasks are usually those that involve new content for me to learn or content that I still struggle to understand. How time-consuming a task is largely depends on how challenging it is, as well as how many parts it has to it.
The more challenging the task, the longer I take to finish it. And, the more time-consuming it is, the more parts there are… which means that I need more time to complete it.
For example, if my Maths homework involves doing a chapter of work and an online task, and my Science homework only involves completing one worksheet, then I would start with my Maths homework first.
However, this all depends on when your tasks/exams are, which is why I always try to start preparing early in order to have time to finish everything I want to do.
If it’s not related to exams/assignments (i.e. daily work such as homework), I still follow the same method.
This makes it less stressful once the most difficult tasks are done, as it leaves only the smaller work to do and takes a huge weight off your shoulders!
2. Allocate your time appropriately
How to allocate time really depends on the person. But, in general, plan out what needs to be done and how long you have to complete it.
Try to calculate how much time will be used for each task.
Even though you won’t be able to pinpoint the exact time needed, having a general time restraint will help force you to work productively in order to finish it.
I tend to split my work into two main parts, homework and other work. So, I split my time between the two.
Pro tip: ensure that you give yourself at least one 10-15 minute break in between to not tire yourself.
Personally, I find my time spent studying and my break times vary from session to session. But, I normally finish homework for 1-1.5 hours, take a quick 10-minute break and then spend another 1-1.5 hours on my assignments/note-taking.
Yes, it does sound slightly contradictory, as relaxing leads to procrastination most of the time. However, I was able to learn how to balance work and relaxation and I believe it is very important.
Overworking burns you out and tires you.
This can have a negative effect on your work and can make you dislike studying (which you do not want, trust me!)
1. Weave fun activities throughout your studies
Try to weave fun activities throughout your studies, such as doing your favourite hobby, sport etc.
I usually switch between my ‘serious’ tasks and my ‘fun’ tasks.
‘Fun’ tasks are tasks that you enjoy doing and can help you feel less stressed, tired or frustrated.
They are usually related to your favourite subjects or favourite topics, or just involve doing things you don’t see as tedious.
This method is useful as it helps you take breaks but still complete work!
I also find this method useful as it never fails to motivate me to finish as much work as possible. It acts as a reset for myself and, therefore, reduces the chances of me getting sick of working on a certain subject.
For example, I usually switch to Maths homework or Textiles because both subjects help me relax and take my mind off the harder subjects.
This is because I find joy in solving and completing Maths homework. And Textiles usually includes drawing and designing which allows me to take a break from the problem-solving mindset and switch to my creative mindset instead.
2. Do other relaxing activities
Always remember to have that balance! Having too much of one side could have a very bad effect on yourself.
In order to not fall down the hole of getting distracted too much, I always keep my ‘fun tasks’ as only tasks/work; i.e. not any other ‘fun’ things such as games, YouTube, social media etc.
Though it was hard at the beginning (as I kept making excuses to slack off more), I quickly realised the negative effects of it. So, through personal experiences, I was able to stop myself getting distracted by unproductive activities.
To anyone who is trying this method, try to stick to only work-related ‘fun tasks’ and if you don’t have any fun tasks to do and you need to take a break, there are still many things you can do:
These are just some examples of the things you could do.
If you want to focus, you must find an environment with minimal distractions.
Your work environment should be someplace that keeps you focused.
It shouldn’t be too cluttered in order to make you feel organised and concentrating.
The library is a very common work environment as it is quiet, has minimal distractions, and has secluded rooms making it a favourite place amongst students.
However, your work environment can also be places in your home, somewhere outside such as the park and many more. It doesn’t have to be one set place, it can change!
Changing your environment from time-to-time can help you feel less bored and more refreshed.
If you find that you do barely any work in one specific area, it is a sign that it is definitely not a good work environment.
I personally don’t like working in silence so I would always listen to music as it helps clear distractions and also creates an environment where I can just focus on myself and the tasks I need to complete.
For topics that I’m not confident with, I do extra practice questions. Then, I redo questions that I previously answered incorrectly to check if I understand the concept.
For topics that I know well, I try to find harder questions to challenge myself.
Before an exam, I always do chapter revisions of all the topics included in the test.
My revision questions are provided by my school’s Maths textbooks.
However, revision can also include doing all the questions you got wrong in your previous exams and completing more practice exams online.
Example of some notes I took of my Maths topics before a test
I also like working in groups for Maths because it’s helpful to have your friends help you with questions that you don’t understand.
However, remember, you can help your friends too!
By helping each other, you expand your knowledge and understanding of the topic.
Since my friends and I are usually busy after school, we tend to work together only during classes, tutoring and sometimes lunchtimes if needed.
We would work at our own pace through the work and would ask each other questions when we are stuck on something.
To help each other further, we also share our personal notes, tips and methods as well.
If I don’t understand a concept very well, I research it further than the information provided to me by the school.
This allows me to have a deeper understanding of the concept, as it obviously gives me more background information. This also increases my interest in it as well.
I am also a big fan of organised notes. Previously, I had multiple random documents from different lessons, which was unorganised and made it harder to find information.
So, mid-last year, I started typing my notes and organising them into four separate folders for each term.
Diagrams, for me, are very helpful as well! Everyone is different, but give it a shot.
I memorise things better when in diagram-form rather than in written-form because they are more effective at portraying the information compared to a paragraph of text.
I have a designated book that I always bring to my Science classes to draw any diagrams shown in class.
This method can relate to any subject; try teaching the content to someone else. Though it may sound a bit useless, it is actually helpful for yourself and others as well.
Teaching it to others reinforces your understanding of the content and proves that you have nailed it enough to explain it well to others.
If you can’t explain a concept well, it may be a sign that you need to revise it again.
If I were to start the year again, I would try to use my time more productively.
By evenly spreading out my tasks, it would’ve made things much less stressful, and possibly result in higher quality work.
I also wished I read more books throughout the year as it would’ve helped me greatly for my English tasks, especially my creative writing.
This is because I believe that reading books can help expand my vocabulary and help familiarise myself with the structure and flow of a narrative.
1. Take advantage of Year 9
Use it to prepare for the harder senior years ahead such as adopting new studying strategies, good habits etc.
2. Seek new things to do and take breaks from studying/working
Year 9 is essentially the last year before things get serious/the senior years.
So, although studying is important, take breaks every now and then and try new things.
Join as many extra-curricular activities as you can and just have fun. Occasionally, go out with your friends as well and relax from time to time.
Constantly overworking yourself can drive you crazy!
3. Always ask for help
Always seek help from teachers or your friends whenever you’re stuck. Always ask for feedback and what you could do to improve.
I know that some people may find this hard or annoying to do but gathering as much information and feedback as possible only builds your base stronger for the future.
It will help you for future years and there’s no harm in doing it.
1. Fall behind on homework
Not being up-to-date on homework is a burden for the future, as the work keeps piling up. As annoying as it may sound, make sure you are on track with homework for every subject.
Don’t waste any spare time you get in class. Instead, use it to have a head start on homework.
Homework is an important part of studying as it allows you to revise the work discussed in class and strengthens your understanding of the material.
2. Ignore your own wellbeing
There will be many times where you’ll find yourself stressed, angry, tired (I mean we are human after all). So, always take some time to focus on yourself to make sure that you’re not harming yourself further.
A healthy mindset is the number one priority! (However, don’t use this as an excuse to work less than you should.)
3. Not prepare for tasks
You still need to prepare for seemingly ‘easy’ or ‘simple’ tasks as much as possible.
Start revising at least two weeks before the deadline by going through the content and testing your understanding and memory.
For subjects like Maths and English, do practice tests under exam conditions.
Preparing early also allows you to see any gaps in your understanding, which you can then ask your teachers for help.
At Matrix+, our subject-matter experts will break down each content to ensure that you understand everything! We also provide you with comprehensive resources with plenty of practice questions to help you get ahead. Learn more now.