A procrastinator’s guide to tackling exam stress

Exams, like death and taxes, are one of life's few constants. If you're struggling with your revision, maybe these study tips from fellow procrastinator Helen Vaudrey might help?

The clock is ticking. You’re staring at the computer screen willing yourself to open Microsoft Word, but Facebook seems determined to keep you occupied from the impending stress that waits.

You’ve procrastinated since the day you were given the assignment. Every day that passed was of no consequence, the deadlines seemed so far away at the time. And now all of a sudden you wake up with a sudden desire to go the library, something you have never experienced before, in a last ditch attempt at not becoming a total failure.

Fear not, procrastinating students; there is still time. Although it is not advisable to leave your work till the last minute, how many of us mere mortals have found ourselves in this situation before?

The entire time running up to your assessment seemed to be taken up by much more pressing matters. Such as the new episode of The Big Bang Theory, or a huge club night in town that just everyone was going to. Even lying on your bed mulling over what needed to be done for your assessment was far more important than actually sitting down and working. Or maybe you had every intention to work but couldn’t harbour the idea of actually standing up without throwing up after the previous night’s antics.

Welcome to student life. The first thing you need to do is control your web browsing. Log out of Facebook and Twitter, it may seem hard at first, but trust me, it’s worth it. Every time you get frustrated with your work simply take thirty seconds out and squeeze one of your free stress balls from fresher’s week. This is better than logging back in to desperately stalk people on your course in the hope that they are just as much as a failure as you are.

Secondly, you must act upon your sudden inexplicable urges to go to the library. The walk may seem a long one from your comfy bed and your comfy room, but that’s one of the great things about libraries. There’s hardly any comfort and absolutely no entertainment. This makes for a productive day of working. Sure, the people around you may either look way too pleased to be there or else on the verge of suicide, but you don’t have to talk to these people. No one talks to each other, so don’t take a friend along for moral support. They will only distract you and annoy the people around you.

All of a sudden, food and coffee will start to take priority over your essays. Every time you sit down with that determined look on your face, fingers poised over the keyboard ready to whack out an essay to end all essays, you suddenly fancy a cake. Yes, cake is much more important at this moment in time. How can I concentrate with a cakeless stomach? You can! Don’t be fooled. Grip the stress ball again and wait for cake urges to pass.

If your roommate pops their head around the door and tells you to stop being a bore and come to the kitchen for a few drinks, kindly explain to them that your essay is far more important than hanging out with friends... Fat chance. Avoid all forms of distraction by simply locking your door and pretending you’re not at home till you’ve finished and can join the fun.

Although an extra glass of wine may help eliminate the feeling of guilt if you did decide to abandon your essay, the panic will be all too fresh in the morning. You may stand on tables when drunk and declare that friendship is more important than essays and “the system” anyway. An Obama-like rousing speech may ensue here and you suddenly wonder why you’re not running for president of the whole bloody world. Bore off. You may also reassure yourself with the notion of getting up bright and early in the morning to finish your work, or maybe not even going to sleep at all and simply carrying on when the parties over. As if. Put that bottle down and get back to your room.

It may not seem preferable at the time, but it will be worth it. When it’s all handed in and completed, then, and only then, can you fill yourself with cake and booze till your heart’s content.

Good luck fellow procrastinators; you can do it!

Helen Frances Vaudrey is currently in her first year of Salford University studying Journalism.

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