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Student's Pre-Study Routine Takes Up Majority of Planned Studying Time


Photo by StockSnap / CC0

Last Sunday, Mark Jacobs (C ’21) was recovering from a wild night of fun when he came to a sudden realization: it was 4pm and he had not started any of his work for Monday. He had a physics problem set, three writing seminar outlines, a CIS programming assignment, and an econ midterm to study for.

Mark decided to visit Van Pelt for an afternoon grind session. While his work seemed daunting, he was determined to finish it all before dinner. He’d made similar empty goals before, but this time was different. Before he began, however, he needed to get in the zone with his pre-study routine.

“I usually start with the basics: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,” Mark explained. “Seeing how all my friends are doing gets me situated. Unfortunately, I have a lot of friends (I’m very likeable), and it usually takes me 1-2 hours to get through all of those websites. I'm browsing on my computer, because I lock my phone—it’s usually too distracting. I read that hiding your phone while doing work makes you, like, 10 times more productive.”

“Then I usually browse Reddit for some interesting reads," he continued. "Today, I was feeling something intellectual, so I hopped over to the politics subreddit and read the top rated post of that day. It was really insightful and I learned a lot. I don’t remember exactly what it was about, but I do remember learning a lot from it.”

Ok. It was time to get to work. With excruciating agony, Mark picked up his pencil and stared blankly at the textbook. Each minute seemed like an hour as he painstakingly scribbled out a single physics problem onto his notebook. He was sure it was wrong, but homework was graded on completion.

With one problem done, and having outsmarted the homework grading system, Mark decided to reward himself with some more mindless web browsing. He took a quiz on how many babies he could take in a fight, then watched a video of a man swallowing an entire carrot without chewing it. He also watched an episode of Rick and Morty, which he didn’t really understand but heard was a good show.

When Mark went back to his physics problems, he had difficulty focusing. He just couldn’t seem to get himself to think about physics at all. Then it hit him.

“I’d been doing physics the entire time!” he thought. “I need to switch it up.” But before he could, he glanced at his watch. It was already 7:45 pm, which meant time for dinner, and marked the end of his study session.

When asked if he was satisfied with his accomplishments, Mark replied, “I think so,” but declined to comment further.