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Davis, California

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Column: Procrasterbation

At UC Davis, finals week can mean one of many things. A flurry of take-home exams followed by spending finals week laughing at your friends with actual exams, a struggle to find even one uncomfortable wooden chair in the library, or an overdose on study drugs that results in your room being completely redecorated but not any actual learning.

So what can I tell you about how to handle finals week? I’m not here to give a lecture about study technique or keeping on task. To be perfectly honest, I might be at the very bottom of the list of people you would want to ask about that. I am, however, very well-informed in what might be even more important than getting prepared for tests. I’m talking, of course, about everything but getting prepared for tests, also known as procrastination.

I know everyone reading is probably thinking that they know how to procrastinate already. What you don’t realize is that there is a fine art to doing it right. Any old chump can spend a few hours of Facebook instead of getting their work done, but Facebook binges are for amateur procrastinators. I may or may not be saying this because I already exhausted all my material on Facebook in a previous column, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

One of the very best things you can do while avoiding the looming threat of exams is to get productive in other ways. As I mentioned earlier, a room redecorating or just a deep clean is not an uncommon activity for someone with other more important things to do. I usually do my laundry, not when my clothes are dirty, but as a last-resort attempt to resist starting my essay. I also often spend my should-be-doing-homework time on activities such as planning a schedule for next quarter, calling my grandma, going food shopping and getting exercise.

But if everything we did while procrastinating was productive, then we wouldn’t be allowed to act cool and say things like, “OMG, I’m so lazy!” when referring to ourselves in online chats. So obviously there has to be a long list of things to get in the way of what we actually need to get done. There are a few obvious hindrances. For myself, the issue stems from my lifestyle choice of saving all of my work to be done on Sunday, only to be halted by an all-day barrage of professional football.

Another distraction present in the lives of many students is the website Reddit. As it was referred to by my cousin’s boyfriend this Thanksgiving as “the best website in the history of the internet and anything ever,” if you haven’t heard of it, you should go check it out.

I explained Reddit to my parents as essentially a giant online bulletin board where you post links to other things on the internet. Millions of other people will then have access to this link and have the ability to post their own comments on your content. You can also “upvote” or “downvote” submissions, sending them closer to the front page where they will be seen by millions, or down to the depths of the internet where few dare to venture.

The real time-sink aspect of the site involves browsing page after page of links to the best funny pictures and videos the web has to offer. Allowing oneself to click just one more can often result in an hours-long spree during which users become unaware of the passage of time.

Procrastinating is not a laughing matter. Just kidding, it totally is. In fact, if it wasn’t, this would probably be a very awkward column to read. I include specific time in my study hours to account for my tendency to procrastinate. The occasional visit to ESPN.com to read about the Niners and browsing online shopping ads to buy my Dad some blu-rays for Christmas are as essential to my learning experience as the books I’m supposed to be reading. By factoring in a few minutes of distraction, I keep my attention span going just long enough to scrape out a final page on the essay I have nothing left to say about.

If you are working now but have a hard time procrastinating, contact AARON WEISS at atweiss@ucdavis.edu. Congratulations, you just procrastinated!


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