I get this question a lot – “Ari, I’m procrastinating on my DAT studying. How can I beat procrastination?”
Here are some practical tips to help with procrastination, something that I can be too familiar with at times.
First, you should have some sort of day to day schedule that will tell you exactly what you need to accomplish. Consider what other commitments you have during the week, and try to block off enough time to just focus on studying each day. Plan ahead and revise as needed. Be realistic with your goals.
To start the study session, do something easy. Do the DAT Question of the Day, answer a couple PAT generator questions, just the easiest task you can come up with. By completing an easy task, it can kick-start your brain into focus. This is an easy way to break procrastination.
Now that you’re studying, try using the Pomodoro technique. The actual technique involves breaking your study time into sessions. Each session consists of studying for 25 minutes on a set of material, taking a 3-5 minute break (just enough to go drink some water and get up to move around), then studying for another 25 minutes. After 4 of these sessions, you take a longer 15-20 minute break. Personally, I try to do around 45 minutes of studying with a 5 minute break, but you should try to find what works best for you.
Even using the techniques above, here’s the kicker: some days, you just aren’t going to feel like studying. You’ll try to start something, but you’ll find your mind wandering and unable to concentrate. That’s totally normal. If that happens, this is what I recommend: take an hour break and sit somewhere else other than the desk where you study. Try not to spend the hour watching TV or going on your phone; I used to just sit outside the library and drink coffee. You don’t want to reward yourself with entertainment during this time. When you’re ready, go back to your desk and try to start by doing something easy again. This way, you don’t procrastinate the entire day when you don’t initially feel like studying. Try not to overuse this option, but you’ll know when you need it.
I hope this helps! These are just some of my personal methods. In the end, you know yourself best, so try to experiment and see what gets you motivated to work. Keep up the studying and stay focused, the DAT is one of the last big hurdles before dental school. It all gets a little less stressful from here!