By: Mark Currie
Was that my phone buzzing? I should check. So are those refugees still coming? Are they here? I should find out. I haven’t talked to Mom lately. I should call her. It’s about time for my annual cleaning of the bathroom. I’m going to need an extension for my paper.
To help students stay focused, produce high-quality papers and assignments, and minimize the need for extensions, the UPEI Writing Centre and the UPEI Campus Life Program co-hosted Long Night Against Procrastination (LNAP) on Friday, November 20th. Approximately 50 students attended the event, each receiving a “loot bag” as they arrived. From 6:00pm to midnight, LNAP provided student participants with a quiet classroom work area, an open space for Zumba and Yoga breaks, writing and study workshops with tips for end-of-semester papers and exams, and, for the energy boosts, complimentary snacks, hot food, coffee, tea, and cold beverages. While students worked on assignments, UPEI Writing Tutors, Academic Coaches, and a Librarian were on hand to offer assistance in any study and research aspects.
LNAP has been organized by universities across Canada and the United States since 2010, but this was the first time UPEI held the event, and schools across the pond in Europe are beginning to facilitate their own “Long Nights”. While “procrastination” is in the event’s title, the emphasis behind the event is on balance. Students are encouraged not to “cram,” but instead to couple work periods with breaks for physical activity and nutritional snacks, helping maintain both physical and mental health. The response from the students was astoundingly positive with many students expressing their enjoyment of the evening and hopes there will be more evenings like this organized in the future.
The reality is that a night like LNAP is sometimes needed. We understand. This time of year, there’s a lot to do and, seemingly, little time to do it in. We’ve all had the moments when we hope that if we ignore the work, it will go away or magically be done for us. Unfortunately, those hopes are rarely realized and procrastination equates to the suppressing and building up of stress until KABOOM! It’s just not good. It is, however, very easy to fall into when you feel the weight of three 15-page papers and two group projects all due next week, not to mention studying for four exams that are scheduled over the next three weeks. This may not be your exact workload, but you likely have your own version, and the point remains: finding ways to avoid doing the work often seems more enticing than actually doing the work. Taking a little bit of time to schedule your work periods, including accounting for breaks, isn’t going to force you to actually sit down and write, but it’s a step in holding yourself accountable in a healthy and efficient way.
Isolating yourself in a room to work may be effective for a while, but, before you know it, you’re watching YouTube while you text your friends and wondering why it’s taking so long to write your paper. Taking the scheduled breaks or working as part of a writing or study group helps alleviate the urge to look everywhere except in front of you at your paper. Give yourself a sense of end-of-semester solidarity and still be productive. Some of you already do this, and some of you will now start doing this. Some of you, however, will acknowledge this advice with a polite nod and then still wait until two nights before a due date to sit down with a couple Rockstars and hammer out a 20-page essay. To all you polite nodders out there, do as you like, but sooner or later – KABOOM!
** To see CBC’s segment covering the UPEI Long Night Against Procrastination, click on the link here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/atlantic-tonight-november-20-2015-1.3329260