There are two articles I’ve read recently that lead me to make this claim. I’ll also define it more clearly. First, here are the articles:
This article reports on a study that indicates that unconscious thoughts can produce better decision than conscious or immediate thought.
This article basically describes the brain as a muscle that becomes tired even when doing seemingly simple things like deciding what to eat for breakfast.
Let’s make it clear now that I don’t mean slacking off is the way to succeed in life. When you have a problem set you have to do it’s clearly not in your best interest to decide to sleep rather than work on it, or so I hope. The first article comes into play if you are stuck on a particular problem on the problem set that you would like insight on AND you have time to think about it. (This is reason to start your work earlier than the night before it’s due!) Common sense always applies.
What I am recommending is being conscious of your brain’s energy level and how your choices will affect it. In my life this issue came up when I overloaded my class schedule and took on more responsibilities with the organizations I’m involved with. This wore me down mentally and physically. Ignoring the physical consequences (I was very sick most of the time), I still remember clinging on to the hope that the next semester would be better and when registration time for classes came around I made the choice to overload again.
It’s tough to say why exactly I made the choice but it did not lead to good things. I think what happened is something like this:
“Why is this so hard?”
“I SHOULD be able to do this.”
“Well I know I could do it so I’ll just minimize damage now and do it next semester.”
“I’ve GOT to pull it off! I KNOW I can do it!”
With the experience I have now I realize it was not the best course of thought. I’ve noticed myself thinking similarly on smaller scales and that’s why I believe I kept my stubborn streak going due to a lack of decision-making ability.
On the other hand I’ve been able to keep up with my assignments better and generally stay on top of things this semester when my life has not been infinitely busy and I have maintained my energy level. It’s getting tough now as the semester comes to a close and my energy levels drop.
With this information in mind I’m planning on adjusting my mindset to take that into account and soar rather than crash this year, making sure to keep up good habits, and avoiding getting off track. And perhaps these thoughts will help you work better as well!