Recently, I’ve been finding myself reminiscing on my time as a college student because I’m now very close to the end of my college career. As is the case with most things, there’s been a healthy mix of good and bad that has come with college, but one thing it has taught me is what it actually means to be productive.
For a while, I didn’t realize this was something that could be learned, nor did I realize that I had learned it from college. To me, there are two types of students. The first is the student who does all their homework and then unwinds by doing whatever it is that they do to unwind. The other type of student is the one that does all their homework and then goes and does more work, be it related to college or something else.
Neither one of these things is superior to the other. They both have their own merits that can be attractive to an individual, but I find the former to be more difficult than the latter. The reason I say this is because Drexel instills this nonstop work ethic in its students. After all, our motto is “Ambition can’t wait!” But being ambitious has a different connotation for everyone. Yes, it is a word that has agreed-upon definitions, but how they apply to people are often relative. What’s ambitious for me and what’s ambitious for you aren’t the same thing.
For a while, I had this constant pressure to always do work of some kind. At first, I thought it was just a natural desire that I had, but over time I started to realize that I was doing extra work just to keep myself busy. The reason I didn’t notice this distinction sooner was because I would keep myself busy in numerous ways. I’ll write an article for The Triangle on a week we already have more than enough content, do homework for a class a week in advance of when it is due or some other kind of work that is unnecessary in the moment but will pay off later on.
The concept of taking a break and just not doing any work for a bit is one that was completely lost on me. It really wasn’t until junior year when I went on co-op and had a lot more free time that I began to realize my insatiable and unhealthy need for work.
This is something that I also see in many of my friends, which leads me to believe that it is a rather common thing Drexel students have. As I said at the beginning of this article, some people are perfectly fine with working almost constantly, but if you find yourself doing this and it is becoming tiring, then it means it is probably time for you to start setting aside more time to not do work.
It’s become a bit of an unspoken belief that you have to always be productive. Wasting time is considered a bad thing, but how do we define what is considered wasting time and what is productive? There was a period of time where I considered playing video games to be a waste of time because they were taking up the place of doing homework or studying. But it can be argued that playing video games was a productive activity from a mental standpoint, as it helped me deal with the stress of classes.
Trying to sustain a constant state of productivity through doing some kind of work is something that I think can start to work against a person over time. You can become so focused on one specific type of productivity, academic or creative work, that you forget to be productive in other ways. Taking a day off from class so that you can have some time to relax and recover mentally is a form of productivity. To me, being productive just means that you are producing something. Finishing a homework assignment and lowering my stress levels by playing a video game is equally productive to me.
Yes, there are times where I will prioritize an assignment over playing a game because that assignment is due by a certain date and time. But there are also times where I will put off an assignment to play a game instead because I’m simply not feeling mentally ready to commit myself to work on the assignment right there and then.
It’s important to recognize that being productive isn’t a linear thing, especially as college students. There are so many ways for us to be productive and some of them are demanding , while others are more relaxing. You should identify the ones that are relaxing because they will balance out the stress. This way you’ll be able to maintain an almost constant state of productivity, both in the academic sense and the personal one.