April 10, 2023

WEIRENS | Procrastination Station: How to Do Nothing at Cornell

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There are endless ways to spend your time, especially at a university like Cornell. Parents, professors, counselors and veteran students alike crow about the importance of “good time management,” but what does that even mean? Where do you begin to describe it? How do you apply this vague concept of “good time management” to your life?

In honor of the impending Accepted Students Weekend (aka Cornell Days), I’d like to extend this article as a time management resource for prospective students to peruse. These are some strategies for endlessly whittling away your time at Cornell, all while maximizing stress and minimizing your sanity. 

For starters, a good mindset to get into is the “I’ll save it for the weekend” strategy. This way, you’ll be bulldozed with the most work during the time of week when you have the most fun, interesting and tempting distractions to contend with. Better yet is the “I’ll save it for fall/spring/February break” strategy, when you’ll likely be with your family or traveling. Unlock your inner finance bro by frantically typing into a computer at the airport gate to complete last-minute assignments. 

Sometimes fun and interesting world events impose on your education, even during the semester. 

Allow your discipline to melt away like hot jelly. For example, the FIFA World Cup unfortunately coincided with Cornell’s study period last semester. My guidance is that you mustn’t compromise your priorities for academia. Messi only has one World Cup victory, but you’ll have plenty of finals to study for at Cornell. 

However, the real gold isn’t doing unproductive tasks when you should be toiling on productive ones, but accomplishing semi-productive tasks to account for the productive ones not getting done. Going to the gym, taking long naps, getting to inbox zero and cleaning your room are basic examples. These tasks may seem productive, but you know there’s that big project looming over your head you’re trying to ignore by doing other things. 

Another particularly effective way to procrastinate is by calling a family member — my go-to is my mom — and talking to them for hours. Catch up on months of extended family gossip and the neighbors’ latest landscaping decisions. Blame the three hour call on your big, caring heart. Additionally, if the sun comes out, drop everything and go frolic, because you probably won’t see sunlight again in Ithaca for weeks. On the other hand, if there’s a blizzard, play in the snow and go sledding on the slope. Call it self-care and forget about your assignments. 

By pushing your critical tasks to the last possible minute, you’ll become familiar with extreme panic and rekindle a bond with our Homo sapiens ancestors through the intense, survival-like fear injected into your modern life. 

Furthermore, accelerating the effects of the freshman 15 through stress can help you acquire a warm blubber coat for the cold Ithaca winters by November. It’s cheaper than Canada Goose and nobody can steal it at a frat party. 

Should you actually manage to sit down with a computer in front of you, it’s essential to have the right music. Spend hours crafting the perfect study playlist. Just as you finish, use the bathroom and realize how dehydrated you are. Remedy this by treating yourself to a coffee or tea. Perhaps one of those pastries the campus cafes sell. Spend more time in the bathroom after your coffee. Remember that you haven’t done The New York Times’ crossword and Wordle yet — that just won’t do. Begin your work, but realize after ten minutes you need a change of scenery. 

Once you actually get to the last possible second, get to work. Like a Big Red bear coming out of hibernation, channel all the time and energy you spent puttering around not doing that project for weeks into one fear-ridden six hour block with no breaks. Harness the overwhelming panic and stress to propel yourself to victory. In the tearful, desperate delirium of the moment, tell yourself you’ll never do it again, knowing that you will. After all, the best masterpieces are created under pressure, and just as the Volkswagen ad on the YouTube video I was procrastinating with said, pressure makes diamonds.

Aurora Weirens is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. The Northern Light runs alternate Sundays this semester.