Starting a big task can be daunting – and studying is no exception. When you throw work and home commitments into the mix it can be tempting to put learning off until tomorrow (and the day after, and the day after that…). However, it won’t do you any favours in the long run.
Students of all ages often joke that the most mundane chores suddenly become urgent when you’ve got revision to do. But before you pick up the duster, try putting the short-term pain into context of your ultimate goal. Practising double entry bookkeeping today will bring you one step closer to that new job, promotion or your own business that you’ve dreamt of.
If getting started is too hard then try breaking your tasks down into manageable chunks, such as simply switching on the computer or logging onto the website – this should help get you going.
Many people find the ‘pomodoro’ technique helpful, whereby you focus for a solid 25 minutes, followed by a five-minute break, as it puts some structure into study time. There are lots of apps that can help you with this, but a good old kitchen timer can be just as effective!
If you are prone to procrastination a more effective tactic may be to set out to achieve a certain goal, such as to complete five exercises rather than study for a set time. It can be very satisfying to count down the remaining tasks, and avoids the temptation to idle away allotted study time with something unproductive.
In the short term, self-bribery can be an effective motivation. Your treat doesn’t have to be elaborate – you’ll be surprised what the promise of a cup of tea and a chocolate digestive does for your work ethic. Treat your family too – if the children (or your partner) leave you alone to study, then reward them with some attention afterwards.
It’s important to remember that accounting is a skill. Just as you wouldn’t expect to master the guitar after your first lesson, don’t be disheartened if you don’t pick up a concept straight away. Keep practising as you go and it will start to become second nature – which will make revision much simpler when it comes to exam time.
Ultimately, studying is about the art of self-discipline. The more regularly you study, the better you will get at it – but it may be a challenge to begin with, especially if it’s been a while since you last hit the books. That said, there will be days when you truly can’t face it, and that’s okay. On these occasions it may be better to give it a miss and come back to it when you’re feeling refreshed, rather than slogging through material without fully taking it in.
Just make sure you’re honest with yourself, and don’t make a habit of giving yourself lots of days off!
• Cath Littler is the Head of L&D (Accounting) at Mindful Education