As the end of semester draws near and the stress levels rise, if you’re anything like me you’ll be holding on by the tips of your fingernails. Complacency and exhaustion set in. You may have missed lectures in order to work frantically on that essay that is due tomorrow or just catch up on some much needed zzz’s and suddenly you’re well behind and feeling very overwhelmed…
Study driving you crazy? Exams got you spinning out of control? I have just the thing to make it better: an inordinate amount of CAT EXAM MEMES! Emergency kittens go!
Have you ever been blitzed in a conversation about how “easy” life as a student is? Even if you’re idly shaking your head no here (in which case congratulations, but you probably haven’t been paying attention to what people have actually been saying when they stand in front of you and their lips move), it’s almost inevitable that at some point somebody somewhere is going to come along and ask “what are you always complaining about anyway? All you do is drink, stay up late, go out and party, and occasionally write an essay or something. Get over it!”
Let’s face it guys and gals, the student life can at times be this miraculous “easy” thing, and a lot of people who haven’t themselves had the student experience probably aren’t going to understand what its like to have to write three 2000 word essays and hand them all in by four o’clock on the same day.
Sometimes uni life can be rough, and the only thing left to do is put down your highlighter, close your laptop, shut those books and take a little breather. In these moments, I myself find there’s nothing more entertaining than, well… looking at pictures of cats.
Makes you feel better doesn’t it?
NB: For emergency pictures of cute cats and kittens try @EmrgencyKittens on twitter!
Procrastination is one of those damaging habits we all have. It’s kind of like a night of heavy drinking. Despite that you know last time ended badly, when the next Wednesday night comes around you still end up partying so hard your friend drags you naked from the neighbour’s kitchen before you set your hair on fire, and the next morning you wake with a hangover so blinding that you moan at the sun, begging it not to eat you while willing yourself to die. You tell yourself you’ll never do it again. And then you arrive at a friend’s twenty-first…
Procrastination tends to involve more crying and fewer terrible dance moves, but the cycle is the same. It doesn’t matter how bad our previous experience was, when the next assignment rolls around we still find ourselves checking Facebook or looking at kitten pictures instead of doing our much-needed research.
So how can you change that?
Well, it’s not easy, and almost every method is going to involve some level of self-discipline. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix to this. We can’t just flick a switch and turn off the desire to look at pictures of kittens. And why would you want to? Everybody loves kittens. Everybody. Yes, I’m looking at you.
The first solution is to try and work on your time management skills. Try blocking out times of day that are strictly for assignments. To make this more effective and less daunting, try and be as specific as possible. If you decide that between 10 and 12 you’ll ‘work on assignments’ then you’re likely to sit down at that time, just feel daunted by the sheer amount of assignmenting you have to do, freak out for five minutes and then look at pictures of kittens. Try to reduce it; make it as specific as possible. Rather than ‘work on assignments’ try ‘develop structured plan for law essay’ or ‘find and annotate five journal articles for anatomy research report’. Make it achievable and know what you have to do.
But we’re not all that good at timetabling. If somebody tells me to ‘keep a diary’ my brain hears ‘draw ponies’, because that’s inevitably what I end up doing (they’re some pretty awesome pony pictures, too). One thing that works really well for me is to try and reward myself for reaching milestones, and that might work for you, too. Your friends are going to the movies tonight? You can’t go until you’ve written 200 words. Really in the mood for donuts? You can buy them once you’ve found four journal articles. Hoping to buy that waistcoat you saw? Only once you’ve finished that psychology report. You want to eat dinner tonight? NOT UNTIL YOU’VE WRITTEN THAT ESSAY!*
Finally, it helps to minimise all possible distractions. If you really can’t tear your eyes away from those kittens then turn off the modem. Maybe turn off your phone and ask anyone in the house to leave you alone for a bit while you work. If you can, it helps to designate a ‘study area’ that’s removed from any distractions. I know, it sounds clichéd, but it works. Do it. Alternatively, if you can’t get people to leave you alone, maybe try to involve them in some way. Make sure the people you share a house with know that you want to write 500 words tonight and encourage them to motivate you, so that when they see you looking at kittens they can turn off the internet and stride in with a menacing grin.
So there you have it! Hopefully some of those tips come in handy. It’s in no way a definitive list, so feel free to comment with anything you find particularly effective. Also, I have no doubt that half of you read this instead of working on that assignment, so GET BACK TO WORK.
*I am not seriously condoning starvation as a form of motivation. Don’t do that. Really guys, don’t. That’ll just end up badly for everyone and the essay still won’t get done. Plus you’ll be dead. That’s super bad.