It’s that time of year again. It can be anything from a bit spooky to downright terrifying. No, not Halloween, I don’t have time for that; it’s the time when we science students start to get given huge amounts of work. If you’re anything like me (i.e. actually want a social life sometime this year) it will pile up pretty damn quick. I spent most of first year trying to work out how to motivate myself to do work when no-one was there to stop me from watching TV instead. Several tried and failed methods include bribing myself with Haribo (I just ate them anyway), denying myself access to facebook until I’d finished my laboratory report (“I’ll just go on for one minute to check…”), and eventually going to the library.
I’m a scientist, and so to me the library is a scary place; I am ashamed to say that last year I borrowed a grand total of 3 books, most of which I only skim-read. Working there is just too stressful for me; when I walk in, I feel that everyone knows how completely mystified I am by the place. When I’m in an unfamiliar place, I like to investigate, working out simple things like which way the doors open (the number of times someone has hit me in the face with a door while I’m doing this are numerous), where sets of stairs go and if I’m even in the right building. But for library regulars, I seem to move too slowly, and definitely too loudly. They are all judging me. Argh. I retreat to the safety of my room once more, clutching a few books that might help me.
So, let’s address procrastination. Everyone does it. If you don’t procrastinate, you’re weird. But there’s an acceptable level, and then there’s writing your essay the night before the deadline while necking Red Bull and occasionally banging your head against your laptop keyboard in despair (guilty) There’s something about living in college, with its soothing routine of meals, then lectures, then meals again, that seems to promote doing nothing. When I have the odd day off from my 27 contact hour week (yes, really) I tend to just slump into the nearest chair and watch X Factor until my eyeballs fall out of their sockets from overexposure to computer screens and Simon Cowell’s hideously gurning face. Something must be done.
I make a cup of tea to motivate myself. Right then. This year, I tell myself while aggressively doing laundry/washing up/actually making my bed, I will be organised. I will write proper to-do lists and stick to them. I will make an actual schedule of work which incorporates healthy amounts of breaks while still getting work done. I’ll even (I’m getting really into this being organised and motivated thing now) do some exercise! Yes! I will go for walks in the woods to enjoy the beauty of nature, and actually use that gym membership that I paid for.
Just right after I finish writing this blog that I’ve been putting off all week.
Protips for livers in and out this week:
- Get a diary or notebook, and write down all of your work as you’re given it. Also keep a to-do list for every week; tick off tasks as you do them, even if it’s something as simple as “Laundry”
- Start work on the day you get it. No, really. Even if you only write an outline, do it while it’s fresh in your mind and then you won’t have to think about it.
- Take a break! Give yourself evenings off past a certain time, go and talk to some actual human beings on your corridor/in your house and most of all SLEEP IS GOOD. REMEMBER TO SLEEP. Pulling an all-nighter is almost never worth it.
Photograph: Bryony Hockin