The Importance of Procrastination

With any academic endeavor, one of the first pieces of advice you will hear is: don’t procrastinate. Teachers, mentors, and professors will ram into your head the importance of starting early and not leaving things to the last minute.  It is important to remain organized and to avoid starting your homework the day before or, as I’m sure more than a few of you have experienced, the hour before it’s due. But, there is also value in taking a break. These moments of self-care, or “procrastination”, can alleviate your stress and enable you to re-focus.

I have always lived a busy life. In high school, I played multiple sports and was involved in various school organizations such as student council, drama, and dance. Because of this, I became very good at organizing my time and was almost always on top of my school work. That’s not to say I never had to stay up late or get up early to finish something, but I was used to doing a lot of work in the little free time I had. However, none of this prepared me for the ordeal that was Science One at UBC.

Science One is an intensive first year program that integrates math, physics, biology, and chemistry. 75 out of 2000 students are selected for this program, which accelerates your learning by teaching first years concepts that others don’t learn until 3rd or 4th year. During my first term of university, I was busier than I had ever been in my life. Since I was averaging  5 hours of sleep a night and  wasn’t making myself healthy meals, my stress level grew exponentially. By the time I’d finished the first round of midterms, I was both mentally and physically exhausted. I was laughing at how naïve I was, to think I was busy in high school.

It wasn’t until I returned to my high school to give some of the grade twelve students advice on how to adjust to university life that I realized what my problem was. I was used to getting little sleep, I was used to living a busy life, but what I wasn’t used to, was having my time monopolized by one activity. The only thing I did was science. I would wake up in the morning and study on the bus to school, I would attend class all day, then head home and do homework until midnight. I dropped most of my extracurricular activities so I could spend more time on my courses. Every waking hour (and sometimes the sleeping hours) were filled with chemistry, biology, math and physics. I was no longer exercising, I was no longer dancing, and unless I was participating in a study session, I had very little social interaction. I had gone from living a very dynamic life to sitting in a room reading textbooks all the time.

Some people live paycheck to paycheck; I was living deadline to deadline warum nicht hier klicken. Because I was focusing so much on school work and trying to be so on top of things, I was actually making university harder for myself.  I didn’t have an outlet for creativity; I didn’t have an outlet for my frustration; I had nothing but my science courses. While I knew beyond a doubt that science was what I wanted to study, it wasn’t the only thing I wanted in life. In letting that one part of my life dominate, I had dropped all the other things I enjoyed.

So the next term, I took a different approach to school. I went swimming more often, I went out with friends for coffee or dinner, I rejoined soccer, and I watched movies every now and then. I didn’t by any means drop all the school work I had to do. The majority of my time was still spent studying science, but I made an effort to take a few hours out of my week and do something for myself. Something that got me out of my room and away from my textbooks.

I forced myself to take a break and put off a few things until later. Because of my breaks, I was able to focus more when I was studying. I was able to enjoy learning more, and I was able to do better in school. Because of my moments of “procrastination”, my marks in the second term increased by 10%.

It is very easy to get caught up in all the work you have to get done. But to live a well-balanced, healthy life, you have to spend some time on self-care. Whether that’s playing a sport, going out with friends, or watching a movie, force yourself to put down your textbook and live your life a little.

Taking a break is not a sin. You will not fail the course if you take a couple of hours to laugh, socialize, and recuperate. No matter how much someone emphasizes the importance of staying on top of your work, it’s just as important to not let your work rule your life. Take a break, procrastinate a little.

 

Photo Credit: Splitshire 

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