How to: Read 300 Pages in One Night.
It’s 1:30 a.m. You open up Canvas only to find you have 300 pages of reading due tomorrow. Maybe the Q Guide lied to you about that “gem” Gen Ed. Maybe you decided to tempt fate and take Humanities 10. Or maybe you went to the Pfoho Igloo yesterday (sorry) and figured you could get through it in one night. Don’t stress! As the readings start to pile up, here are some strategies to deal with those Sunday scaries.
This may seem like wishful thinking, but it’s much better to read a manageable amount everyday than cram last-minute. It’s simply not fun to read about Kantian ethics for three hours straight. Who knows? Maybe you can even make it fun and rewarding. Read 40 pages, eat a cookie! Read 20 more pages, go to Trader Joe’s, replenish the cookie stash, and then finish it again.
Read smarter aka advanced skimming
More realistically, we don’t have time for all those readings. So, get out those highlighters and start advanced skimming. Take notes on the most important information and focus on what you don’t already understand. If you’re really in a bind, stick to the topic and conclusion sentences and the bolded words your textbook conveniently provides (they’re basically encouraging skimming, no?).
Look at the ARC’s offerings
Harvard’s Academic Resource Center offers strategic reading workshops, academic coaching, and peer tutoring for help with specific courses. Their website also has information on efficient note-taking, reading well, and honoring priorities (this one’s for you, Igloo-ers).
Have a mini existential crisis, if needed
Sometimes you just can’t avoid the panic and dread. Lean into it. Question why you took the course and complain to anyone who is willing to listen, tell yourself you’ll start earlier next time even though you know you won’t, dye your hair a horrendous color only to reverse the job in a week, leave your responsibilities behind and move to Hawaii, or do all of the above. It’s healthy to get it all out and breakdowns are a great excuse to practice some definitely solid coping mechanisms.
Take a break
If it’s daytime: Stand up! Stretch! Focus on a faraway object for a bit. Maybe even leave the sad, dark, corner of Lamont you’ve been sitting in all night and see what the weather’s like today. If it’s nighttime: Sleep! (seriously). Getting some sleep will help you concentrate when you wake up in three hours. And, who doesn’t like putting off their problems until the morning?
Unfortunately, long readings are here to stay, but we hope these tips will help you be a bit more strategic in how you approach them. And if not, and you’re procrastinating anyway, check this out before you get back to work!