Looking to procrastinate? You can start by reading this…

If you’re at uni and you’re reading this, then it’s probably quite likely that you’re procrastinating; whether that be putting off an essay, revision, or maybe for the drama students, line learning.

I seem to be doing a lot of dawdling lately so I thought I’d round up my top 10 ways of putting off until tomorrow what could be done today.

  1. Read student blogs (as you’re already reading this one you’re off to a good start); reading about other people studying is inspirational right? Once you return to work you’ll be a lot more pumped as their work ethic will pass to you through some sort of… osmosis, maybe.
  1. Watching documentaries; it doesn’t count as lazing around because it’s educational! The BBC currently have a very interesting series about ancient Greek art which might not be directly related to English Literature, but I’m sure it’s enriching in the much broader sense.
  1. Tidy your room – a clutter free room means a clutter free mind (apparently). In all honesty this isn’t something I actually do, during essays my room goes to rack and ruin, but maybe it’ll work for you.
  1. Attend guest lectures, for example the history department recently had a talk about the sex life of Edward IV… a bit niche I know, but see point two about enrichment (plus, there are sometimes free drinks).
  1. Stare wistfully outside at the glorious weather.
  1. (This point requires you to live in a groundfloor flat, generally speaking, but you might be able to adapt it to your circumstances) Have friends who have fewer deadlines and/or are more organised and have finished and/or have faith that they can do an essay in a night; let them know where you live, then when the weather is gorgeous and they’re enjoying the sunshine, they can come and knock on your window and lure you away from your work.
  1. Watch the rabbits that live just outside your window. Contemplate how much easier life would be as a rabbit, they don’t have to do essays…
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This is baby bunny Stella; the picture doesn’t to a very good job of conveying just how small and cute she is.

  1. Make a cup of tea, because you’re supposed to get away from the computer screen every twenty-five minutes or so (note: make sure you have milk, an essay crisis can result in no grocery shopping being done)
  1. Write a blog post about procrastinating; you’ll waste at least an hour.
  1. Do literally anything other than face the crushing weight of essay deadlines. (I jest, sort of)

University is great but sometimes it can get a bit much, and like everything difficult in life, sometimes you need to take a break and treat yourself to something sweet, and sometimes you just have to knuckle down and accept that it’s not going to get done by itself.

Best of luck.

The escape plan if essay deadlines aren't met

The escape plan if essay deadlines aren’t met

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Plagiarism and Plays

What is originality?

Well according to William Ralph Inge, it is undetected plagiarism (but that quote isn’t plagiarism because I cited it, kind of).

Anyway, it is the “P” word that has been on my mind all week after a particularly terrifying lecture from our Plagiarism Officer on Monday. Now I know that she didn’t mean to scare the pants off us, but put the fear of God into us she did.

To recap, I have just handed two essays in, and I am 99.9% certain that I have not committed anything that might be termed as bad practice, but it’s like during A-Level exams when they ask if you have your phone on you, and you know you don’t, but you still have a ten minute panic wondering, “what if…”.

But the talk turned out to be immediately beneficial to me, as I went straight back to my room to reread my essay, and discovered that I had in fact put two of my references the wrong way around – a close save.

The rest of the lecture was far more enjoyable, including such wonderful lines as, “we’re literature students, it’s our job to be pretentious… so go forth and be pretentious”. It also turfed up the old history vs literature debate – what is the difference between them if we view history as a narrative (other than that historians claim to be more scientific), or as Alan Bennett puts it, “Just one fucking thing after another”?
But now that I’ve handed the essays in I have promised myself to not look again until I get the marks back, because I know I will just stress over what I could have improved, etc.

I’ve also been working on improving my studying habits, as I’ve settled into the term my fresher’s enthusiasm for going through all the further reading given us has waned, and I admit my reading of our actual texts may have become a little sloppy too. But, after a few days spent with the Significant Other in Oxford, I’m feeling a little more invigorated. When you’re surrounded by people who have to turn in two essays a week it puts your own studies in perspective, and creates an environment more beneficial to working than sitting alone in front of your laptop, where the siren call of funny cat vines is strongest. So, if my friends are up for it I think small study groups might be the way forward, but we’ll see. Everyone has to find what works for them.

(Pro-tip: Audiobooks mean you can get through the more meaty texts faster, and tidy your room at the same time!)

In other news, the Minotaur Theatre Shorts ended last night and it would be remiss of me not to congratulate all involved, and to not give a special shout out to the cast and team of “Maggie” who were, as always, wonderful. It’s exciting to see just how much talent exists in our relatively small community, and very flattering to know that the staff have deemed you worthy of being a part of it. (Our alumni include the, late, Doctor himself, Matt Smith, and others such as Radio One DJ Greg James)

So that’s it for another week. It’s scary to think that we’re more than half way through the first term already, and before we know it, it shall be Christmas…

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My desk mid essay frenzy