Racing against time


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Varshini Ramanathan, Editor-in-Chief

When I write down all the tasks I have to do, looking at each of them individually makes them seem pretty manageable. When I write a to-do list, I always think I can accomplish the items there and more as long as I’m diligent. However, the second I sit down to actually work, I lose sight of that neat little list and instead feel the pressure of infinite things to do on the horizon, even though they’re far from infinite.

I am unable to focus only on the task I am doing — maybe it’s the product of this tech culture, or maybe it’s just the way my brain works. How much time do I allot for my English reading before my math grade begins to suffer? Do I work on my supplements or my schoolwork? For every hour of sleep I give up, how many points do I lose on tomorrow’s test? I know students who don’t even bother with this optimization and instead give their all on everything while sacrificing sleep in return, or students who don’t bother trying at all. No matter the case, the pressure of having an vast amount of work to do that doesn’t have a clear start or finish is worse, I believe, than the stress of actually doing the work.

In my experience, it’s where procrastination comes from, as well. Rather than tackle all of those tasks, I opt to escape to Instagram or find a friend to talk to (they’re few and far between these days because they’re all working). It’s all in the head, after all; as long as I can forget about my work, I’m happy.

Well, there’s the solution, right? It’s all in the head. If I just compartmentalize and stop thinking about other tasks while I’m doing work, my stress should vanish. But this is what they call time management, after all; how am I supposed to get by without it?

It’s the way we were raised to consider things. The big-picture thinking, the strength of making connections, our capacity to consider and comprehend a lot at once — this is where it comes back to get us.

If we can understand that this inertia is not just laziness, perhaps we can begin to overcome it. By recognizing this pressure that seems impossible to pin down as legitimate and not all in the head, we can truly confront this problem rather than continue to deal with the anxiety and procrastination that comes as a result.