• Adina Samuels

It'll Get Done... Eventually

Published February 23, 2016

https://thestrand.ca/itll-get-done-eventually/


We all know the feeling. Sitting down at the computer in front of a new Word document, waiting for 3,000 words to appear before the 9 AM deadline the next morning.


Why do we students do this to ourselves? Each time we put off our work, we know the result is going to be the same. We end up pulling stressful all-nighters, relying on caffeine and our Spotify playlists to make it through the night. The myth of producing one’s best work under pressure is completely illogical. How do we know we work best in stressful situations if we’ve never tried anything else? What is it about leaving things to the last minute that is so appealing? Wouldn’t it be easier to spread out the readings throughout the week, or start the paper a few days before?


Scientifically, yes. Yes, it would. A 2009 study by Nate Kornell at the University of California found that spreading out one’s study load over time results in higher overall marks and, for 90% of the participants in the study, proved to be more effective than cramming. Interestingly, students who cram the night before still believe that they do better on tests than those who spread out their studying, even though the data says otherwise. There is something alluring about ignoring our responsibilities, about blinding ourselves to the ceaseless, growing pile of work. When put into writing, this seems absurd—why, then, is this such a common pattern among students?


Here are a few possible reasons why procrastination affects so many of us:

  • We’re tired! We’ve been at school the whole day, and the last thing we feel like doing is paying attention to a textbook and soaking in all that extra information. Did someone say Netflix? That sounds like a much better idea.

  • After being lectured at for a whole day, we need to feel in control. If I want to eat that tub of ice cream, I will! The laws of practical physics can’t stop me no matter what the professors might say!

  • Procrastination is part of our nature! Examples of procrastination date back to Ancient Greece. If the people of the Golden Age suffered from this problem, it is only right that we do, too.

The real question is—does it matter? The simple answer is, yes. Cramming and pulling all-nighters can lead to impaired mental functioning, inconsistency in schoolwork, and biological imbalances, among other detrimental side-effects. In other words, as tempting as it can be to leave things to the last minute, in the long run it’s a bad idea.

But, have no fear. This epidemic can be prevented and annihilated once and for all! If you really want to eliminate your procrastination habits this midterm season, here are some tips:

  • Remove yourself from temptation and distraction. Find your own study space free from distractions. Try turning off your phone—or at least putting it on silent—for short amounts of time. There are any programs and apps that can help you do this; for example, UNICEF has started an initiative where you can visit www.uniceftapproject.org to see how to help give clean water to children in need by not using your phone. If you need something a little more forceful, try a focus-aid app like StayFocusd or Cold Turkey, both of which work to limit or restrict your access to time-wasting sites.

  • Make an achievable day-to-day schedule and stick to it. Small goals will help you earn the marks in the long term. If you tell yourself you will work for 30 minutes and then take a break, you will be motivated to use that time wisely knowing that a reward is around the corner. If scheduling isn’t easy for you, try the GoConqr Study Planner to help you figure out how to manage your time.

  • Know that it is okay to take a break, but don’t let it take over your study time. Instead of sitting down for a movie, try a walk around the block or a short power nap, and then get back to work.

Keep these suggestions in mind, and you will surely see results. Your grades, your mind, and your body will thank you for it!




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