Ask a fifth-year: Welcome to the Procrasti-Nation

Dear Sarah,

I can’t stop reading Quiz Bowl forums before bed time. It’s fun and great and helpful for Quiz Bowl but then I get about four hours of sleep and end up hating everything that isn’t injected with espresso the next morning. How do I actually make myself sleep instead of staying up on my laptop for no good reason and really regretting it in the morning?

-Jittery Junior

 

Dear Jittery Junior,

Trust me when I say we’ve all been there before. Whether it’s Buzzfeed articles teaching you 20 different things to do with mac ‘n cheese or videos of cats playing the piano, everyone has their own Internet vices. The best way I’ve found to combat useless procrastination is to plan out productive breaks.

Lawrence life is crazy. It’s busy. It’s crazy busy. Too often, we get wrapped up in contests over who is doing more and who has the more hectic schedule. What if we could change the culture at Lawrence? What if instead of competing to be the busiest student here, we made it our goal to become the most balanced student?

Give yourself time to be you and enjoy your life. If you let yourself take breaks and plan those breaks to be activities that are still fulfilling in some way, you will feel more accomplished. The weather is lovely right now and won’t be for much longer, so start a pick-up game of wiffle ball with friends. Watch one, and only one, episode of a favorite TV show on Netflix. Power naps aren’t just for kindergarteners; go home and sleep somewhere comfortable (napping on the conservatory couches is never as restful as you think it will be, it’s worth the five-minute walk back to your real bed). Go on a walk and send Snapchats to all your friends. Read a book that isn’t required for class. Listen to or play music, just for fun.

It’s unhealthy to never take breaks. You need to give yourself time to refocus and gather your thoughts. Your work will be of a higher quality if you come at it with a rested mind. And while surfing Tumblr for the latest Sherlock fan theory is fun and entertaining, it needs to come at the right time. If your struggle is with net surfing before bed, leave your computer on your desk. That GIF war you and your best friend have will still be there in the morning. Maybe you’re more like me and the internet always seems to be at its most interesting right before you want to start writing a paper. Try setting a timer. I’ll sit down at my computer and give myself 30 minutes to check my notifications on Facebook and the new releases at ModCloth before I start writing my paper (online-stopwatch.com is great for this, especially if you set it on bomb mode).

Procrastinating always leaves me feeling empty and frustrated. I didn’t get any work done, and I didn’t do anything fun. My entire break time was spent thinking about what I wasn’t doing, rather than what I was. If you give yourself breaks that are enjoyable, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted your time.

Send in your questions to wagners@lawrence.edu and have them answered by Sarah, a double-degree student in her fifth year at Lawrence.

 

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