5 Ways you’re holding yourself back as a student

January 10th, 2019


We’ve all got bad habits. It comes with the being-human territory. At the same time, if we can do away with a few so every now and then we’re going to be much better off. This is particularly true of your student years. After all, these are the last few years of your life where you’re learning pretty much full time. And as they’re often expensive, the more you can stick up the better off you’ll be.

So, what are some of the biggest mistakes holding you back from getting the most of your time as a student? Let’s explore a few.

Not getting concrete about your schedule

“Trust me, procrastination is a problem most of us face. It’s hard to get to work! But there are a lot of things you can do to fight procrastination,” shares Christopher Mercer, freelancer and founder of Citatior.

One of the most effective is to create a concrete schedule where you write out what you are going to do and when you’re going to do it.

The reason this works better than saying ‘I am going to do it this week’ or even ‘I am going to do this tomorrow’ is that you’re giving yourself far less psychological space to push things back. If you say you’re going to do something tomorrow, when the morning rolls around you can push it back to the middle of the day. And from there it’s a short distance to the evening. By that time, you’re tired and before you notice it you’ve scheduled it for the next day.

If you say to yourself ‘I am going to start at 10 AM tomorrow’ then that’s a lot harder to do. Once it’s 10:30 you know you’re late and that will give you a nice psychological push. So schedule concretely. Even better, write it down – as that creates more commitment.

Depending on willpower to get things done

Common culture has this idea that successful people become successful by relying on willpower to push away temptations and distraction. The research, however, says differently. They say that the trick to actually getting things done is to avoid temptation. Make sure that you can’t actually get to it easily and then you are far more likely to be able to keep going.

And that makes sense. As James Daily, writer and Flashessay contributor shares: “If you think of willpower like a muscle, then obviously the more strain you put on it, the more quickly you’ll tire it out.”

And that means you’re not going to get as much done! So, avoid temptation. Install software to block social media and such. Then you can get on with the actual task of doing what you’re supposed to.


Here I don’t mean the practice of going over all the stuff before an exam. Here I’m talking about the action of relying only on that way of studying to try to learn a subject. There are a lot of people who rely almost exclusively on pushing everything back until the deadline is almost upon them and then working in a flurry of caffeine-fueled anxiety to get things done before the deadline hits.

The thing is, that’s not terribly effective. Not only are you going to do worse on exams and papers, but you’re also going to remember far less of it. That’s because the human mind requires repetition to remember something for the long-term. And that’s going to be a drawback in whatever profession you pursue.

A much better strategy is to actually read the stuff when you’re supposed to and then read through it again before the exam. The second time won’t be half as labor intensive and chances are you’ll remember much more both during the exam and after it.

Isolating yourself

Hey, I get it. You’re not doing very well and you’re getting stressed out. So, you pull yourself back from your social life and invest more time in your studies. And sure, up to a level that’s not a bad idea. Extra study time can be helpful – particularly if you weren’t doing that much, to begin with.

The thing is, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. And isolating yourself from everybody and not having a social life in order to study is a perfect example of that. You see, your state of mind has a big impact on how well you do at things. And isolating yourself is going to have a seriously negative impact on your mind.

For that reason, follow the suggestions of the Harvard psychologist Shawn Achor in his book The Happiness Advantage. Make sure that you’re actually happy and doing well mentally as that will contribute more to you doing well in school than isolating yourself will.

Stay healthy

Your brain and your body are not two separate things. They are one and the same. And if you’re not healthy, then neither is your brain. So, give yourself the best opportunities you can by eating well and getting exercise.

“These things might seem like a waste of time when things are going badly and your grades are suffering, but trust me – they’ll make a huge difference,” explains Sylvia Giltner, a career advisor at Resumes Centre.

That’s both true now and in the long run, where bad eating habits, while you’re young, can lead to all sorts of long-term health problems.

Photo by Dose Juice on Unsplash

Last words

Studying is a big deal. It’s an incredible opportunity to get ahead and make the best of your life. But to make sure that you get the most from it, you have to tackle some of the behaviors that are holding you back.

If you can tackle even a few of these, you’ll see some dramatic changes – both during your studies and afterward.

Jessica Fender is a professional writer, independent blogger, and chief content officer at OnlineWritersRating.com. She is passionate about wise team management and self-development as a leader. Featured on Freelancer and Addicted2Success.


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