Bigger Pictures: Procrastivity’s Greatest Hits

Source: Wikimedia Commons
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“Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he’s supposed to be doing at the moment.”

~ Robert Benchley

You know what’s annoying? Spell check. Let me tell you why. The neologism “procrastivity” shows up no later than 2008, and spell check wants me to change “procrastivity” to procreativity. Needless to say, procreativity requires not only a different blog post, but an entirely different blog.

Anyway, now that we’ve dispensed with that minor annoyance, let’s delve, shall we?

Procrastivity as a neologism comes from the merging of “procrastination” and “activity”. In other words, we engage in procrastivity when we are supposed to be doing one thing, a thing of great importance, and we instead do some other thing, also a thing of importance, but a thing of decidedly lesser importance. Groan if any of these sound familiar:

  • It’s time to study for your calculus final, but before you wrestle with limits and area under the curve, you first have to clean up your study space. You tell yourself that a tidy desk is a productive desk. But once your desk has reached the state of blissful efficiency, you realize you simply moved items to the bed and the surrounding environment which, of course, now demands organizing. Two and a half hours later you’ve cleaned your room for the first time in months, but you have yet to look at any calc.
  • Your final paper is due on the last day of exams. Nothing short of perfection will give you the final grade you so deeply covet. So you read. And you read some more. Over a period of days you even run back and forth to the library grabbing more books that turn out to be unneeded, which you knew before you checked them out but you just had to make sure. The day before it is due, you’ve written less than a page of the 20 or so you need to turn in.
  • You know you have to go through your Bio slides because the exam is a mere 37 hours away. But there’s so much to be done. You need to send a follow up email to the members of your performance group, thanking them again for all the extra work they did to make the semester ending show such a rousing success. You then double check the treasurer’s report and send her an email thanking her for getting you the numbers before summer break. You then check your airline reservation since you’re flying out of PHL in a mere 43 hours. Slides? What slides?

Slippery slope, thy name is procrastivity.

This type of procrastination hurts because the other things you do instead have legitimate importance. But you are still not doing what you need to be doing.

So: Beware. Be careful. Be vigilant.

And as finals draw ever closer, remember: You got this.

Pete Kimchuk

Senior Learning Instructor

Study Strategies: A fresh take on “Procrastination”

View of Center City from the Gershwind-Bennett Terrace
Source: University of Pennsylvania flickr

At Weingarten, we like to ask,

“What’s your favorite form of procrastination?”

The question is often welcomed with puzzled enthusiasm. Students are at first taken aback by our directness, but find relief in the straightforward candidness and empathy. The discussion that ensues is always lively!

This is the time of the year, Spring semester, when things are ramping up (e.g. 2nd mid-term examinations, finalizing mid-term projects, and launching final term papers), and many students struggle with procrastination.

Perspective is important. Let’s first acknowledge that there are many varied and legitimate reasons for procrastination, with differing impact on the student-scholar. For instance, procrastination can often be a form of perfectionism. Also, procrastination is often a direct result of additive and competing demands upon our schedules. In other words, it is never a character flaw. It is a response, and often, an internal coping mechanism.

Today, I’m offering a fresh take on procrastination:

“Is procrastination keeping you from reaching the world or is it helping you to stay connected to the world?”

View of College Green from the Moelis Reading Terrace
Source: University of Pennsylvania flickr

For instance, if you know that a task only actually takes you 2-hours to complete, is it really necessary to spread it out over two-weeks or 8-hours just because of an arbitrarily imposed external norm?

Imagine instead, what you could do during those extra weeks or hours to nourish your wellness or enrich your other personal, academic or professional goals.

This requires, of course, self-knowledge and (evidence-based) discernment. But no one is born with this precise form of calibration and insight. It takes commitment, mindfulness and reflection.

At Weingarten, we recommend keeping a procrastination and productivity diary. Take an inventory of your habits and life. When, how, how often, and in what patterns do you procrastinate? It reveals what you value, what you crave, where the redundancies are, which gates (e.g. activities, tasks, relationships) require opening up…

A strategic, intentional and mindful reflection on procrastination may actually help us to “march by our own drumbeat”, with the result being self-knowledge, awareness and acceptance instead of criticism and guilt. So,

“What’s your favorite form of procrastination?”

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Instructor

Reflection: What I Have Learned from Weingarten Students

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A Learning Fellow’s Reflection:
What I Have Learned from Weingarten Students

Returning to student life this Fall after over a decade was a humbling experience for me. Although I reveled in all of the opportunities and resources on Campus and the intellectual stimulation of my classes, I also came close to tears trying to figure out the EZ-Borrow system for a book I needed, and ruined my favorite pair of shoes trudging through a flooded walkway because it was the only way I knew how to get to class.

Although I began my position as a Weingarten Learning Fellow (one of several doctoral students in the Graduate School of Education who works as a Learning Instructor) with learning strategies based on my own academic training and life experiences, I soon realized how much I take away from students. I continually find our one-on-one sessions and workshops an opportunity to find out about new tech tools and resources on Campus, talk through different exam preparation and writing strategies, and about a million other things!

Coming from a 9-5 office-type schedule, I originally had a tendency to try and study for five or six hours at once, without taking more than a 15-20 minute break to scarf down my lunch or make a phone call.

One thing I have learned from being able to work with so many students on their own schedules is the importance of taking meaningful breaks throughout the day, whether it’s lunch with a friend, going to the gym, or taking part in a club or activity that you enjoy.

I am proud to say that I now work for only two or three hours at a time, and then enjoy a long walk with my dog or a mindful lunch break where I actually sit computer and phone free to enjoy my food. I also try to embrace the student mindset of continuous learning and reflection, and I gain courage from so many of our resilient students who bounce back from failure and are willing to try again.

By Staff Writer: Jennifer Kobrin, Learning Fellow

 

Welcome Back to Spring 2019 Penn Students!

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Happy New Year and Welcome Back to Spring 2019, PENN Students!

At the Weingarten Learning Resources Center, we hope you had a good Winter Break and opportunities to reflect, relax and recharge for an exciting Spring 2019 semester! You should be proud of your efforts in the Fall of 2018. As we begin the new semester, there is already much to look forward to in the coming months. We would like to share some resources to help you hit the ground running in 2019 in addition to a number of exciting campus-wide programs! To get you started, we have some ideas and resources to help you optimize your learning:

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  • Explore and discover other VPUL (Vice Provost for University Life) resources:

University Life is you! Penn wouldn’t be Penn without University Life

By Staff Writer: Min Derry, Learning Fellow

Wellness: Tips for Work-Life Balance Over Thanksgiving Break

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Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/thanksgiving-fall-pumpkin-flowers-2903166/

Every November, hundreds of students leave Campus for Thanksgiving feasts and quality time with family and friends. Others may use this four-day break to travel, or stay local and enjoy fall activities in Philadelphia. For those struggling to finish papers and study for upcoming exams, Thanksgiving can also be a challenging time. Finding the motivation to draft a literature review or work through math problems might be yawn-inducing, especially after generous helpings of turkey and pie. But for many students, some study time is a must. Depending on your academic program, there may be only two full weeks of class after Thanksgiving break! Read the tips below to balance work and play over break, so you can return to Campus feeling confident and ready to finish the semester strong.

Tip #1: Make a Plan

Before you leave for break, sit down and make a plan for how you will tackle the rest of the semester. This might include using a calendar to map out your remaining papers and final exams. Next, break down the steps it will take to complete each major assignment. You may also wish to reserve time in your calendar each week with activities like studying, research, and writing. This will also help you determine what tasks, if any, you need to complete over break.

Tip #2: Set Boundaries

If you are leaving Campus, you may have friends and family that are eager to see you — at all hours of the day and night! If you know that you do need to spend some time studying over break, set goals for what you would like to accomplish. You may also wish to set clear expectations in advance or at the beginning of break. Treat your study time like you would a solid plan with friends or family. It may be helpful to head to a quiet cafe or public library if the place you are staying in is noisy

Tip #3: Treat Yo Self!

Whether you celebrate Thanksgiving or not, use the break to celebrate and acknowledge everything you have accomplished so far this semester. Give thanks to yourself for working hard to achieve your goals, and the others that have supported you in this journey. Cherish that extra slice of pie, daytime nap, and quality time with someone you care about.

By Staff Writer: Jen Kobrin, Learning Fellow, Weingarten Learning Resources Center

 

Wellness: Make This Semester Your Best One Yet!

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Welcome Back to Campus!

It’s hard to believe how quickly summer went by. Here at Weingarten we are excited to have you back! We have collected some tips over the years to help you start this semester off strong and make this semester the best one yet.

1. Make a plan.

Before the semester gets too busy, write down all of your obligations, including
exams, projects, quizzes, trips, and parties for your classes, jobs, clubs,
organizations, and personal commitments. Adjust your schedule to ensure you
have time for each.

2. Make your health a priority.

Schedule time for you now. Make taking care of your health a habit early in the
semester. Decide when and how you can take time to ensure you are doing what
you need to do to stay physically healthy and active.

3. Make time for sleep.

Make a night time routine for yourself now. Getting a good night’s sleep increases
your success and focus in your academic and personal pursuits. Try to keep a
schedule so that you can be the healthiest and most productive you.

4. Make personal appointments.

Schedule any appointments you will need this semester (doctor, dentist, therapist,
counselor). Once the semester gets going, it’s easy to brush these to the wayside.

5. Make appointments with campus resources.

Schedule appointments with Penn Libraries, Career Services, Academic Advisors, or
the Weingarten Learning Resources Center. Get to know the resources on campus
now so that you are more comfortable reaching out for help later!

6. Get to know people in your classes, in your residence hall, in your clubs
and organizations.

Attend events and programming here at Penn with your friends, hallmates, and
classmates! The University of Pennsylvania is a place where we can all grow
personally and academically. Make the time to be a part of a community where
we can learn and grow together this semester.

 

Staff Writer: Kelcey Grogan, Learning Fellow and Learning Instructor

Study Strategies: Dos and Don’ts for Reading Days

How many times have you said, “I’ll get this done during Reading Days?” I know I have said it at least ten times this semester. This semester’s reading days are Thursday, April 26 and Friday, April 27. Reading days (and the weekend before finals) are a great time to get prepared for your final exams and papers, but those two days go by very quickly. In this post, I’ll share some dos and don’ts for Reading Days success.

DO create an action plan. As soon as you can, look at all of your syllabi to get a better understanding of what exactly you have to do for your final assessment for each class. Do you have a final paper? How long is it? What kind of outside research does this paper require? Do you have to do a presentation about your paper in class? Do you have a final exam? Is it cumulative? Is there a study guide? Create fake deadlines for yourself before the actual deadline by bringing your paper or study plan to the Weingarten Center or by taking your paper to the Marks Family Writing Center. Making an appointment will create an accountability measure for yourself.

DON’T start the day before. The worst time to start looking at exam material is a few hours before you take the test. If you create a plan and familiarize yourself with your professor’s expectations for the final, then you will know how much time you must devote to studying for that particular exam. Similarly, starting your paper the day before the deadline won’t yield the best result. You may need to get books from the library or interview someone to complete your assignment, so advanced planning is critical when completing these papers.

Do prioritize. The end of the year comes with lots of fun activities that may get in the way of your exam and paper preparation. You are encouraged to balance work and fun, and the best way to do this is by putting all of your activities, fun or not, onto a calendar. We have April-May calendars in the Weingarten Center that are perfect for this activity. Once you see when everything will be taking place, you can make some choices. Perhaps choose one fun activity to do during the weekend before finals, and sandwich it between study/work sessions for your exams and papers.

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Don’t try to cram. Depending on how much time you have to study before your exam, you will have to make some choices about what you study. If you are short on time, focus on reinforcing the material that you know well and reviewing the topics that you can easily learn, rather than getting held up on the most complicated parts of your coursework. This strategy is the best way to get through as much as possible in a short amount of time.

For more tips on making the most of your Reading Days, visit us at the Weingarten Center! We’ll be holding two “Study Hacks for Reading Days” workshops on 4/23 and 4/24. Additionally, we are open for 50-minute appointments or shorter walk-ins if you would like to consult with a learning instructor individually.

Best of luck on your final exams and papers!

By Staff Writer: Cassie Lo, Learning Instructor and Research Fellow