Midterm season has arrived in full-force these past few weeks. This has motivated countless students to settle down among the stacks, open their books and laptops, and revisit their old classroom notes and problem sets in an effort to succeed at all the challenges that Brown offers to them. Filled with personal discipline, an ability to delay gratification, and above all else a striving passion to perform, these devoted students will approach their exams and essays with a deep confidence in their abilities, a focused and prepared mind, and several nights of undisturbed sleep.
Here are some tips that might help you and other students avoid their looming work for the next cycle of midterms.
1. Think About How Much You Work You Have
There’s nothing better to distract you from studying than to think about how much work you have. I mean, really try to ponder it—all of the material that you’re responsible for in each class, how many words you’ll have to write in total for your essays—whatever it is, just make sure you’re very aware of how much you’ll need to accomplish in the next week. For the next step in not working, try to imagine the worst possible consequences that could happen if you screwed up. Linger on all of this for a few hours, and you’ll be well on your way to not getting anything done.
2. Talk to Other People About How Much Work You Have
Closely related to number one, a great way to be unproductive is to complain to others about how much you have to do in the upcoming weeks. Parents, friends, acquaintances, random people in line at the Ratty, all can be effectively used as tools to avoid finishing work. Try to distract them from their own work as you complain, so they become more anxious about what they have to do as well. The less industrious the people are around you, the better you’ll be at not studying.
But remember: always make sure that they know that you, ultimately, have it much harder than them, and are worthy of their sympathy.
3. Wait to Talk to a TA or go to Office Hours
If you really want to make sure you that you feel unaccomplished by the weekend, never start work on anything until you’re fully sure that you have the approval and understanding of your professor and/or TA. Go during peak hours of their schedule so you’ll have to wait in a long line, and never ask them direct questions related to your work, because remember, you haven’t started that. Instead, focus on broad, generic ideas that they have already mentioned in class, or ideally would be answered either on the syllabus or prompt—things that will bring you no closer to sitting down and working. But be careful, you might accidentally leave feeling productive, so try to remain skeptical of whatever advice they have to offer.
Another great activity to ensure that you won’t get anything done is to come up with a personalized soundtrack for all the time that you’ll be spending not working. Find a good blend of old favorites and new music. And make sure to include that one song that you really like but haven’t heard in years. Gosh, what’s its name again? I think it came out sometime in early 2000’s or late 90s’; it’s by the band had that one kind of weird guy…you know, with the hair? It’d be perfect for the playlist. You should spend some time googling the few lyrics that you remember in order to try find it—it’ll probably be stuck in your head until you play it.
5. Choose Your Place to Not Study Wisely
One of the most important things to consider when trying not to study is your environment. If you’re around the wrong people in too quiet of a spot, you might get bored and actually start working, so be careful not to end up on the fourth floor of the SciLi or alone on the Quiet Green. The Blue Room and the common room of your dorm are both great spaces to go to not write and/or study. Ideally, try to stay in areas with lots of foot traffic, so you’ll have a constant flow of new people with whom to catch up. That girl from your freshman seminar who you don’t really remember? Your RC from a few years back? Try to chat with them as they walk by your table.
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