The High Flyer: Less is more

Spending less time on schoolwork, more time on myself

By Erin Loh

With a month of 2021 already gone, I’m proud to say I’ve maintained my new year’s resolution of putting less effort into my schoolwork. 

Let me explain.  

I’ve always been someone who goes the extra mile in my schoolwork. Whether it’s writing complete sentences when it isn’t required, doing math calculations by hand instead of using a calculator or taking extensive notes and annotations, the assignments I turn in are always my best work and exceed what was assigned. 

Trapped in schoolwork: Perfecting homework assignments is impossible, and refusing to accept this notion can lead to being trapped in a school life with no personal time. (Illustration by Erin Loh)

Unfortunately, this presumably good habit ended up being a disadvantage for me. The consequence of turning in high quality assignments was I spent longer on homework than necessary, which cut into my spare time. 

As a result, I was left more tired than I should’ve been each day, and lacked the time I needed to recharge. Additionally, spending extra time being nit-picky on schoolwork didn’t further my understanding of the content or give me more credit. In short, I was giving myself more busy work. 

Upon entering into 2021, I found myself looking back on the endless free time I had during the holidays. Realizing how much I enjoyed having time away from academics, I knew I had to change if I wanted to keep a decent amount of free time in my schedule. 

By giving up perfectionism in my schoolwork, I learned that lessons I had been taught my whole life, like putting my best effort into everything I do, might not always be the best approach for me.

After realizing this, I came up with a new mantra: I would do assignments to the extent of receiving credit and understanding the material. 

In a way, this echoes CEO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg’s famous adage, “Done is better than perfect.” According to Business Insider, Sandberg first expressed this motto when she realized “aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst.”

Implementing this new process has been one of the best decisions for me this year. My grades haven’t plummeted and I have more time to play piano, relax and write for fun.

In addition, putting less effort into schoolwork taught me that what works for others might not work for me.

There will always be ways to improve my work, but for assignments that review content I already know and are checked for a few seconds by teachers, spending additional time to make them perfect is not worth it. Figuring out what works and doesn’t work for me requires trial and error, and most of all having confidence in my decisions.