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By David B. Lat

The time of year at Harvard that brings out the greatest amount of intellectual effort from students is exam period. These days truly allow us to showcase the intelligence expected of us as children of Mother Harvard. Now exams certainly do call for a lot of hard work. They give us the chance to demonstrate how much we've learned over the semester. But I'm not talking about exams.

During exam period, Harvard students take their intelligence and figure out creative new ways to procrastinate. There are some time-honored procrastination techniques that should be familiar to all. One of my personal favorites is the two hour lunch. Assuming that you're not dining at L'Espalier, lunch should not take two hours. (The expected jab at Harvard Dining Services is just too easy.)

To avoid studying, students will sit in their House dining halls for hours. As long as someone is eating or drinking something (and everyone at the table conveniently takes turns going up for dessert, or more coffee), it would be rude to get up from the table. And so we sit, happy to let precious studying time slip through our fingers.

Other people procrastinate by playing computer games or doing lots and lots of pleasure reading. Compared to textbook discussions on "the mechanisms of cell death," even the phone book constitutes pleasure reading (and I'm talking White Pages here). The problem with these methods of procrastination is that they quickly generate large amounts of guilt.

As a result, the best ways to procrastinate involve doing things that are actually useful and even necessary. Go to the Office of Career Services and start that summer job search. Carry out the comprehensive cleaning of your room. Start studying for the GRE. So what if you're only a first-year? Have you been neglecting your senior thesis for the past few months? Well, exam period is the perfect time to start that first chapter. Immersing yourself in thesis reading, even if you happen to be writing on Kant, Hegel and "retributive theories of punishment," is still much more appealing than cramming for tomorrow's final.

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