The trials and tribulations of procrastination in the vacation


The holidays. Ah, sweet, sweet holidays. Or are they? I always relish the beginnings of the holidays, time to escape without an essay deadline hanging over me or a piece of reading in sight. But then, about two days in and two series deep into Gilmore Girls [insert wholesome substitute here], that nagging feeling of unfinished, incomplete work returns.

We all know deep down at the back of our TV-numbed brains that we really ought to say no to the Netflix next episode countdown, and yes to reading the emails the tutors have sent us.

The problem with vacations, it seems to me, is that the work never ends. Really, the most basic change is that you get to work somewhere other than Oxford. It might be your bedroom, your kitchen table, the local café, but you still feel compelled to sit down with your books out and stare at your computer screen.

I’ve come to realise this is one of the many interesting facets of the Oxford term. It might be accurate that many of us never bother to open our books over the holidays, or only do so once or twice, but it would be in error to suggest we aren’t meant to.We all know deep down at the back of our TV-numbed brains that we really ought to say no to the Netflix next episode countdown, and yes to reading the emails the tutors have sent us.

Every holiday I sit down and think, this is the one, the one where I revise for collections, do the translations I never did, and put my urge to go shopping and eat paninis in its place.

‘This is no time to slack’, I tell myself, and I picture the generically organised student (we all know at least one) who goes to bed on time, eats healthily and writes up their lecture notes on an evening. I try and become them, I try and breathe their essence, I ponder at how to get out of bed on a morning, and get beyond the coffee stage of preparation.

It is really something, when opening your laptop to find the reading, and then successfully navigating SOLO to open the PDFs, is the summation of your work that day.

It’s not that I don’t care. I do, deeply. I so badly want to be someone who can go to the library and actually be productive during the holidays, but it is so easy to get distracted.

During term, I might meet someone in a café as a break for an hour or two. During the holidays, I plan my entire day around that café trip. Lunch at one? Only worth getting up at eleven. Brunch at ten? Well I’ll be knackered from all that talking this afternoon!

So, as I sit here, writing this instead of delving back into the Polybius I leave constantly open on my laptop, in the hope somehow, I’ll miraculously absorb the information, I ponder the reasons why I cannot but help procrastinate.

Its such an irritating word. Procrastinate. ‘Pro-cras’ literally means put off until tomorrow, and I can’t think of a phrase that better sums up my life. I always try and face things head on, and maybe I’m getting slightly better at it, yet always, I think, tomorrow I’ll be more motivated, tomorrow, I’ll do better.

But for the moment, whilst I type furiously away on something completely other than my degree, I wonder how I can possibly prep myself enough to become that studious ideal.

Maybe it will never happen, but it won’t stop me from opening those documents, getting my laptop out, and forcing myself into the lib- but oh? Look at the time! Silly me, I better get going, time for another coffee and catch up…


(Photograph taken by Joe Rattue for The Oxford Student)



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