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  • Writer's pictureCaroline Olesen

5 TED Talks to Get You Through Finals Week

Photo shot and edited by Caroline Olesen. Copyright by Caroline Olesen

(This article was first published on HerCampus, an online magazine for young women in college, in May of 2017)

TED Talks are 10-18 minute speeches given on any given subject by expects in the fields. I pulled 5 that could be helpful during the most stressful week of the semester, so you can procrastinate but be productive at the same time!

For when you’re procrastinating: “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator”


  • Who: Tim Urban, founder and writer on the blog Wait But Why, professional procrastinator

  • What: An exploration of why we procrastinate loaded up with jokes and humor. Meet ‘Relational Decision Maker,’ ‘Instant Gratification Monkey,’ and ‘Panic Monster’ and learn how they all work together. Hear about the two different kinds of procrastination and why one isn’t as bad as the other. Watch someone who has stood exactly where you are and lived to tell the tale of how you can still succeed in life.

  • Why: Because why not procrastinate by learning more about procrastination?

For when you feel like you’re failing: “Embrace the Near Win”


  • Who: Sarah Lewis, an art historian, art critic, writer, and author of “The Rise”

  • What: Lewis offers an explanation of what success is, what mastery is, and how these are connected to celebrating the near-wins in life. Listen to what this has to do with “archer’s paradox,” unsigned paintings, and the Dunning-Kruger effect.

  • Why: To learn that maybe success isn’t what should really strive for, and why reaching our goals can be a good thing.

For when you need more time: “The Psychology of Time”


  • Who: Philip Zimbardo, author & psychologist, known as the leader of the Stanford Prison Experiment in 1971.

  • What: In this fast-paced video, watch Zimbardo explain what temptation has to do with time and what time perspective is, and learn how to optimize yours. In this six-and-a-half minute video, you just might find outhow to get roots, wings, and energy.

  • Why: So you’ll know when to #YOLO and when to not…

For when you need a reason to smile: “The Hidden Power of Smiling”


  • Who: Ron Gutman, CEO & founder of HealthTap

  • What: In this short seven and a half minute video, Gutman will surprise with well documented research that says smiling holds more power than you would think. Learn how smiling could predict how long you will live, how successful you will be, and learn about the universality of smiling as an instrument of communication.

  • Why: In case you needed a scientific reason to smile more… or why to use this natural superpower more!

For when it’s all said and done: “The Fringe Benefits of Failure”


  • Who: J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, philanthropist

  • What: Her commencement speech to Harvard’s graduating class of 2008 , is an inspiring tale of why hitting rock bottom can be the thing you need and how there isn’t one “normal” route to success.

  • Why: Because she started from the bottom and now she’s a multimillionaire.

All TED Talks are available for free on or on their YouTube channel.

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