The sunny quad may seem inviting, but your studies may be suffering

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Alas, summer in Victoria is short lived.

“You won’t be seeing much sun here for the next eight months,” I said to a new UVic business student from Calgary. −30°C is the norm during Calgary winters, but it comes with sunny blue skies. In Victoria, people don’t get as much sun. From a student’s point of view, however, grey skies and raindrops may increase productivity.

Perhaps cold and rainy days make you want to stay under the covers and sleep in, but when you have an 8:30 a.m. class, you are forced to get up and go to school. Once you are out there, you want nothing more than a hot cup of coffee and shelter. Is it true then? Can great weather actually be a distraction?

According to research by Francesca Gino at Harvard Business School, work efficiency increases when sunny weather decreases. It is quite logical, because, when the sun is out, students are generally tempted to tour downtown, lie on the UVic grass area, take a walk in the park or go for a swim down at Cadboro Bay Gyro Park beach. Outdoor opportunities and activities become a distraction.

Lab test results demonstrate, “People tend to be more productive on bad weather days than on a good weather days,” Gino told Harvard Business School’s Working Knowledge publication. Interestingly, making participants think about outdoor activities on a rainy day decreases their working speed and quality of the work produced, which means more errors.

Out of 25 UVic students I asked, 21 students agreed they are more productive when the weather is bad outside, but also mentioned there is a risk of feeling lazy and tired. This exemplifies how bad weather could go in two directions: productivity, or sleepiness and decreased motivation.

If you have a routine work schedule, however, the rain can cushion guilt. “On bad days, you don’t feel like you are missing anything by staying inside,” said Gary Tunnell, a UVic Student Computing Facilities staff member.

The first few weeks in university are piling on stress for some students already. Papers, assignments, quizzes, deadlines and group projects are all presented to you in the syllabus at the beginning of the year. As the year continues, school is more demanding, and students will face the challenge of achieving balance. Can a student afford to be a little relaxed in September? It varies.

Every student has different course loads, schedules and extracurricular activities. If you are a person who always has several pots cooking on the stove, the gloomy Victoria weather is in your favour. One of my greatest pet peeves is wasting time, and with a full schedule, relaxation time is scarce. Below are some helpful tips to help you achieve a success at university during the eighth months of notorious grey Victoria clouds and raindrops.

Have a set sleeping schedule. (I recommend going to sleep by midnight at the latest, and waking up at 7:30 a.m.)

Use as many campus resources as possible. (The library and computer labs are great places.)

Have a checklist ready every morning, and plan out the tasks you need to do throughout the day.

Do not procrastinate. Always be ahead of the game.

These are a few starting tips. You will have to decide what fits into your schedule and manage your priorities. There is no definite answer on how good or bad weather affects people, but when the sun is hiding, many people hide indoors, and there are places on campus to help push you into being a productive learner. When the sun is out, my mind begins generating ideas for outdoor activities. When it is raining cats and dogs, however, I go straight to the library, fill my mug with fair-trade coffee, and get to work.

Coming from a tropical sunny Island in Taiwan, am I jealous my family has 35°C-plus of sunny weather daily? Of course, but summer is over for me now. School is first priority, and leisure activities will have to wait for another sunny day, because rain, I know you won’t go away.

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