#ColgateProblems: Motivation, Swanson Style

The first six weeks of every spring semester are the most challenging of the year. We’re all burnt out, homework is just picking up and none of us have the motivation to do any of it. The result? We procrastinate. Whether you’re a first-year or a back-from-abroad junior, most of us are rocking a case of senioritis. But while absorbing ten episodes of “The Office” per day might seem beautiful, losing pace with work now will leave you scrambling and miserable come midterms. How can a kid get back into the mental grind? I’ve got some ideas.

According to “Parks and Recreation’s” Ron Swanson, there are three motivators in life: fear, hunger and money. To refocus your attention on school, figure out which of these three taps your veins hardest and use it to manipulate yourself into doing homework (I personally find the first two most effective). Now, I know some of you are fans of deactivating your Facebook or using that Self Control app to block your favorite websites, but let’s be real: this tactic makes you look super uptight and depriving yourself will only make you bitter. Instead, identify your main reason for blocking them (perhaps it’s the worry you’ll never get into medical school) and channel that fear more effectively. Create a strongly worded screensaver with a red “F for FAILURE” on it or better yet, pre-record a video of yourself listing all the consequences of not finishing your readings and play it back when you start procrastinating. It seems masochistic, but you will thank yourself.

If hunger and thirst are your kryptonite, try using food as a reward. Most dieticians and counselors will tell you that thinking of food this way is unhealthy, but so is going out three nights per week and spending all of your ‘Gate cash on 2 a.m. Slices. Health concerns have never stopped this campus before, and Ron Swanson has yet to fail me. Consider bargaining with yourself like this: “If and only if I make it through half of my night’s work will I treat myself to Oliveri’s.” It’s a pretty straight forward trick, and as long as you set reasonable goals, it can be very effective.

Last, bait yourself with money. Money is a notoriously fantastic manipulator, but it is one thing to control others with it and an entirely different challenge to turn its power on yourself. For instance, you can easily tempt a friend to drive you somewhere for twenty dollars, but you can’t exactly bribe yourself the same way. My advice? Use online shopping as motivation. We all have long wish lists and I know that ninety percent of us have been drooling over at least one major item. But splurging every time the mood strikes can make you feel guilty and, well, poor. Instead of ordering on a whim, promise to only purchase things after you’ve reached a substantial academic goal, like finishing a draft of your research or staying on top of class readings for a few straight weeks. The process is frustrating, but finding out you have a parcel from the mail room…and that you earned it? Indescribable.

That’s all I’ve got for this week. Until next time, you stay sassy, Colgate.

Contact Shannon Gupta at [email protected].