Ask Pawan: How do I stop procrastinating?

Hey Pawan, third-year student here and I can’t believe that I’m asking this, but exams are coming so I gotta ask: Got any tips to kick procrastination?

I love this question for a lot of reasons, one of which is that it lets me talk about something other than relationships. I’ve worked up some studying tips from a variety of sources, both anecdotal and analytical, and am glad to pass this off to the short attention spans of the next generation. Here are what work for me.

Munch Munch

It’s always amazed me that once I sit down to work, I somehow become convinced that suffering is par for the course, especially when it comes to “mundane tasks” like consuming nutrients. It’s completely common knowledge that your mind is sharper when it doesn’t have to worry about starvation, so do all your cells a favour and grab a bite to eat before you get in the zone.

Build a nest

Studying is hard, but if it’s a subject that doesn’t completely engage you, it’s a monumental task. In that situation, anything becomes a point of interest, from the meaningless conversations to pondering about the real meaning behind Limp Bizkit’s 1999 smash hit, “Counterfeit." You can combat this curiosity by constructing a cocoon of knowledge. Find yourself a place that you would only use to study and make it into a focusing paradise. A few good attributes include a nearby outlet, comfortable seating and something that you can occasionally use to break the monotony like a window.

Play yourself

In line with the previous tip, I also recommend you to try and circumvent your future self by thinking ahead about what distractions you could fall prey to while studying. My most common distraction is little three- to five-minute YouTube videos that aren’t bad on their own, but they pile up very quickly. To fight future-me, I make sure I’ve got a 10-minute break-timer that reminds me that I’m trying to get a degree, regardless of how enticing the Darth JarJar theory video.

Lighten up

‘Why don’t I remember this from class? I totally bombed this part on the midterm! My university career is being torn down by this single equation.’ These are all things that seem to run through our heads when we finally dive into our notes and see the veritable Everest of things we have to cover. It’s a given that this mindset hurts your grades, but it’s important to remember the things not between your textbook covers. If you are working yourself to the bone to get that A, you’re going to be missing out on the good things that keep you fresh and sane. Granted, university is hard and between fees, grades and less-than-stellar weather, it’s hard to remember those good things.

Still, I implore you to try.

Take a walk with an umbrella and give a few minutes to really look around campus. Try as nature might, it’s hard to make flagpole plaza look anything less than great. While UBC’s location might suck when it comes to getting just about anywhere, it does give a damn good view of the waves and mountains. So breathe it in, remember what it felt like in the first weeks of semester where you (re)discovered just how beautiful of a campus this place can be and use that sentiment to make it through these next couple of weeks until the wondrous relief that winter break promises.