Image from Snapwire Snaps.

We’ve all been there. A mountain of homework sits atop your desk, incomplete, as you stare blankly into the void that is your bedroom wall. Or you’re watching Netflix or doing something equally unproductive and can’t find that “on” switch to muster up some motivation and actually do something. Though you may look at some of your straight-A peers and wonder how efficiently they must study, the truth is that all of us are inherently lazy. You will waste time. What I think makes or breaks you in high school is whether you can try to minimize the amount of time you’ll be wasting, and how you deal with the time you will inevitably waste regardless of how hard you try to be productive.

One potentially huge distraction when you want to get homework done is your laptop or desktop computer. If you’re working on an assignment that doesn’t require you to use your PC or Mac, try to physically distance yourself from your computer and any other electronic devices. Work in a place that’s comfortable for you, but is far from electronic distractions so you won’t feel the need to check social media sites or the like. Oftentimes, if I isolate myself from the internet and just focus on the work that’s in front of me, I’ll be too absorbed in the work or, at the very least, too lazy to get up and walk over to my computer for it to become a distraction.

Sleepiness can also be mistaken for laziness. Lethargy breeds a distinct lack of productivity because, well, your body is telling you that you need rest. I highly recommend taking naps whenever you’re tired. Every time I came back from school, I’d feel so drowsy that sometimes I’d take a three hour nap after arriving home. I’m a pretty heavy sleeper, so my naps are pretty long, but you can take naps for as long or short a time as you want–half an hour, 90 minutes, you name it. Just make sure to take your naps strategically, since napping for too long during hours late in the night may throw off your sleep schedule.

On that note, budget your time wisely in general. Time management is a crucial skill to have in high school and college, but don’t try to use every second of the day for some particular task. It’s just not humanly possible. You should know your own habits, including how often you become distracted, so that you can account for the time where you’ll be lazy and doing nothing. Instead of thinking, “I will get x, y, and z done before I go to sleep today,” consider personal inefficiency and be more realistic: “I will get x and y done today, but probably won’t finish z.” And that’s okay. Students are inclined to believe that they can complete every item on a daily checklist, but it’s usually under the assumption that you have the ability to work 100% of the time. That’s simply not true.

You don’t have to do everything in a single day. Laziness is a true killer if it’s combined with procrastination–if you can’t sit down and focus in for a few hours on end during crunch time, you most likely won’t be putting out your highest quality work. Try to get an earlier start, but spread out the work across a greater span of time. The problem with trying to do all your work at once is the uncertainty of how effectively you use your time. Teenagers typically can’t be fully attentive for more than 20 minutes at a time, so don’t push yourself to be superhuman. If you try to overextend your attention span, you’ll end up becoming exponentially less productive. Take breaks every now and then and grab a snack to reset yourself, and try to stay away from the internet and any other personal attention traps. Like I previously stated, physical separation helps.

Now remember, no one’s holding you to any standards. Hold yourself to your own standards, but realize that everyone is lazy on the inside (no matter how outwardly hardworking some may seem). Don’t let your laziness control you, control your laziness!

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the author

Nelson Dong is an incoming freshman at the University of Pennsylvania and hails from North Hunterdon High School. Born in a state overrun by loud, tan New Yorkers (yes, they're all from New York with the exception of Pauly D), he holds great disdain for the shore. He dabbles in dancing, singing and writing, among other artistic ventures and plays tennis to stay in shape. However, it must be noted that he absolutely does not lift because he doesn't have time.

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