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To do...

25 Apr

I make lists. Everyday. To do… To call… To finish. It gives me a sense of accomplishment before I even set about doing anything…Bad idea. I am constantly in a state of denial accomplishing all the ‘post letter’ type tasks while happily ignoring more crucial ‘finish essay’ reminders until the due date is staring me right in the face. Sound like you?

I’m positive I haven’t been alone all these years in the ‘last minute’ stakes. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a complete wreck. I’ve normally done the research and may even have a rough idea of how I’m going to structure the assignment. However! …the pressure to amass the final ‘piece de resistance’ doesn’t quite hit me until most sensible students are coolly ‘tweaking’ their work!

If someone sat cradled in one of the quad’s sandstone arches at around 4pm on any given due date, they might catch me running towards the SOPHI office, red in the face, with a hot off the press bundle of papers! Shocking, I know. With the best intentions to start this year off on a better foot, a first year assignment (I’m now in third year) had me reeling into the office with minutes to spare.

When I swear to ‘never let that happen again’ I end up going through the same old tired excuses in my head… ‘It’s ok, I’ve been really busy…’ or ‘I’ll be more organised next time….’ More than anything I am making things so much more stressful than they have to be!

Over the holidays I had a major essay to write. Apart from the occasional shift at work, I had seven relatively empty days up my sleeve. I sat down and wrote little bits of it every day. Revelation! For the first time in my two and a bit years at uni, I was not sweating over an essay. In fact, I’d go so far as saying I was enjoying myself!

I was not racing against the clock - knuckles whitened (oh so dramatic.) Instead I was nursing cups of tea, taking my time, with no pressure for my fingers to continually dance over the keys.

I saw the ‘other side’ and the grass was definitely greener. Sure, it’s all fine and dandy that I had a free week and actually used it constructively. The biggest challenge now is changing these deeply engrained habits (procrastination!) and managing my time more effectively during semester.

Doing well at uni means being self motivated. Knowing what you have to do is only half of it. To be crass, you’ve got to ‘take the bull by the horns.’ Start looking at assignments when you get them (world’s greatest hypocrite). It’ll make the developing of ideas and actual content seem much less insurmountable and something you can enjoy. It all sounds so obvious, I know… and often easier said than done.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my classes and being at uni and I respect that it is a huge privilege. I also know it can be hard when there are so many other things going on in your life - part time work, responsibilities, friends, family… I remember starting uni after floating around for a year after school. I came down like a lead balloon!

I might be a few years late but I’m now determined to be one of those people who has their essays printed and all ready to go at least a day before it’s due. I want to be able to say I’ve written a draft and had the freedom to mull over my thoughts at a leisurely pace…

I’m not going to do anything drastic like cancel my dates with ‘Grey’s Anatomy!’ It just means that from now on I’m going to be more sensible about prioritising my time. While writing lists is all good and well, I’m going to have to make sure I’m getting to the nitty gritty first, leaving the ‘organise dinner at mine’ until I’ve actually done something about those ‘finish essay’ imperatives.

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