Thursday, July 24, 2014
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OOMMEN: Sidetracked

It was a Saturday night, and I decided to be a bore and work on a paper that was due a couple of days later. I work best under pressure, so concentrating at that moment seemed impossible. Honestly, how many people can finish their work the weekend before it’s due? Not many.

I mean, you have to be mentally prepared to dive right into an assignment. You have to find out the name of that song that’s been playing in your head before you start. Otherwise, it’s going to get in the way of your concentration.

If you’re hungry, you better get something to eat or the next few hours will be downright miserable, especially if you’re in the library or a quiet study room. Then there are those frustrating moments when you feel absolutely restless, and you can’t stop thinking about a series of events. You feel the need to go out and use all five senses — not sit at a desk. Everyone conquers those moments differently. They take five-minute breaks, do yoga, breathe deeply or just leave the work for the next day.

On Saturday, I was distracted by Jake Bugg. I listened to his entire album before finally settling down to write my paper. Eventually, I got into the zone and became completely engrossed in the topic on which I was writing — courtly love in the Middle Ages. However, 20 minutes into the process, with only about half the introduction done, my mind started to wander — not too far away from the theme of my paper, though, as I wondered whether courtly love relationships in medieval literature were any better than modern-day relationships in films. I mean, rom com romances seem to end as soon as they start.

Unable to focus on my paper, I decided to take a five-minute break. I logged onto my Facebook, and weird enough on my home page there was a BU meme that said, “I have an addictive personality, I wish it would help me become addicted to studying.”

Yes, from time to time I wish I was addicted to studying. Then again, writing a paper is not studying at all. It involves racking the brain, being creative and somewhat systematic, but it doesn’t involve memorizing and formulating like one does when studying math.

We are capable of doing all of these tasks — writing papers, doing math. It’s the outside influences that dishearten us. Some are obvious: sudden dinner plans your floor mates make or a new episode of your favorite TV show being aired at that moment. But there are also psychological ones, like the feelings of restlessness I mentioned before, the feeling that you just can’t bring yourself to do a task.

This all brings to me my final point. Procrastination. I hate that word. It suggests that I’m trying to avoid a task. But, it’s not like I’m always trying to avoid a task. Sometimes, I literally cannot bring myself to do a task. So, let us abandon the word “procrastinator” and recognize that there are many reasons, some psychological, why one postpones a task.

Rhea Oommen is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences and a weekly columnist for The Daily Free Press. She can be reached at rheao@bu.edu.

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