By Johnna Ossie, Free Press News editor
On Wednesday afternoon I sat in the Free Press office snacking on muffins that our sports editor, Erin, had made the night before instead of doing her homework. Laughing and shoving muffins into my mouth, I told her how I had spent the night before watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and pretending to clean my room instead of doing the readings I needed to do for class. I asked her what she thought I should write my perspectives piece about this week and it dawned on both of us that maybe I should write about priorities.
Deciding what your priorities are and actually following through with them seems to be one of the hardest things for most college students to do. Perhaps it’s that we don’t have enough time in the day to do all the things we need and want to do, maybe it’s that we get so overwhelmed with the workload that it seems easier to push it aside and bake two dozen muffins or watch three episodes of Buffy, or maybe it’s just that it’s more fun to do anything but the thing we really need to do.
I’m a master at avoiding the work I need to do, and I always have been. I even took a twenty-minute break in the middle of writing this article to make a list of what I thought my priorities are, which turned into a two-page document with headers and subheaders. One of my priorities was health, so I took a detour to the YMCA website to look for yoga classes. Then I was already on the internet so I checked my e-mail and went on Facebook, and here we are.
Why is it so hard to just sit down and do the work? In my third year of college I have possibly, hopefully, found some tools that help.
I started this school year with one major rule for school which was: I will not skip class to hang out with boys. It sounds easy, but is it really that easy to say no when the person you have a crush on asks you to go on some sort of adventure, and your class is only an hour and fifteen minutes long, and you’re sure the discussion isn’t that important today, and maybe your professor won’t even notice that you’re not there. I try to ask myself which will be more important ten years from now, my degree or the boy that I may or may not even speak to anymore.
So now that I’ve (hopefully) told my crush that I need to study, the next step is to put myself in a setting where I can actually get work done. For me, this means leaving my apartment. Otherwise I’ll sit down at 2:00 p.m. and at 7:00 p.m. all I’ll have accomplished is sorting my socks, watching YouTube videos with my roommates, making snapchats of my cat and FaceTiming my best friend across the country.
The library seems to be the best place for me to actually get school work accomplished. Everyone else there is also studying, it’s quiet and there are few distractions. I also find coffee shops to be good settings to get work done in, as long as the baristas aren’t all my friends and the shop isn’t in the center of town where everyone I know is always coming though and talking to me.
I try to set a time limit for reading or writing essays, where I’ll do my work for a set period of time and then take a small break, maybe take a walk or eat a snack. It seems more manageable and less scary to do work in small chunks than to sit down with no end in sight.
Finally, I try to spread my work out throughout the week so that I’m not doing it all at 2 a.m. the night before it’s due. This takes the most diligence for me because I’m a master procrastinator, but it saves me from sleep deprivation and late-night anxiety attacks over the research I haven’t done.
I’m still learning to set my priorities when it comes to school, and often times you can find me on my bedroom floor late at night swearing at my laptop, surrounded by books and work I have to finish for the next day, but ideally you will find me in the library in the afternoon, taking the time to learn what I need to learn and do my best work so that I am able to get the grades I want, the degree I want, and the future I want.