Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Get It Right, Goldilocks!

Well, people have told us for our entire lives that procrastination is B-A-D. Teachers, parents, older students... do we listen? Of course not! We have far better things to do with our time than homework! Pssh, it won't take that long anyway...

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am here to admit that I... am a shameless procrastinator. (I have not updated for almost two months, if that is any proof.) Procrastination leads to rushing which leads to panic and stress, which lead to ulcers and migraines. No, really... they do.

My first week of college was all sunshine and light, with orientation and lots of other freshmen who were as happy as I to be starting a secondary education. We were told it would be hard, we were told it would be stressful... We smiled and nodded, thinking that as High School graduates we knew what "stressful" was, and we could totally handle it.


The first week of classes in college is kind of like a tropical storm. You look out the window and see "Oh, it's raining. I should probably close the windows." You close the windows, but don't bother locking them, because it's only a little rain. As the storm gets closer, your foundation starts to shake with the rumbles of thunder, but you keep typing away at your laptop and updating your facey-spacey because you closed those windows, so everything is okay. The rain beats harder at your walls, and you start to wonder if maybe you should lock those windows... and maybe the doors... and nail down the furniture... But just as this becomes a thought, a branch breaks off a tree and knocks a window open, and your brand new imported hardwood floor is ruined by rainwater pouring all over it.

By the way, that window is homework. If most of it is done (or just whatever's due tomorrow) you feel okay, and that it's perfectly fine to go into town for a few hours and stare at storefronts. However, that paper that's due in a few weeks is sitting in your bottom drawer... it's just waiting until you're fishing around for a pack of gum, notice the assignment, and suddenly remember it's due tomorrow!! Panic time.

Procrastination isn't the only evil of college life, however. Another one is doing things too early! How, you may ask, with work and homework, and dirty laundry biting at your ankles do you find time to do work early? Free time comes when your professor cancels a class because she thinks the schedule is stupid, and really hates waking up early on Fridays. Or free time appears when that really boring thing you had to read for class wasn't really that boring, and you liked reading it, so it didn't take as long. This is the time that you may think "Hm, that paper is due in three weeks... I'll try and get it done now!"

This is a bad idea, don't do it.

Doing work very early means it's out of the way, but professors assign due dates when they do for a reason (and no, it's not because they're sadistic). You learn key lessons in class that will assist you in writing the paper, or the professor decides a few days before it's due to have in in-class session where you brainstorm ideas about your paper, and work out the kinks.

If you finish the thing before this time, you either have to write a paper twice, or you have a very underdeveloped paper, with meaning that's shallower than a soup bowl.

Too early, too late, when are we supposed to get our work done???

For some people, sleep is an optional element of college, and much of their inspiration comes and three in the morning, right before the paper is due. Pass the chocolate covered espresso beans, please. For others, too soon is not soon enough. "If it's done, I can go out. I don't really need to learn anything from it."

Mom was right, yes. Procrastination is bad, but so is working yourself crazy in order to get something done so early that you'll get a bad grade for not understanding the material.

Relax! Don't put it off forever, but don't worry about finishing it the same day it's assigned! Rather than spending hours testing porridges, wait until the teacher tells you which one is probably not too hot, and which one is ice cold.