Are we completely rational? Anecdotal evidence tells me no.
People can easily get impulsive when making decisions. That impulse is most prominent if too many choices are provided. An example is with our smartphones, something we’ve heavily and indispensably relied on. It is no rare phenomenon that one could compulsively click on a random piece of information, and another piece of information that follows. Time elapses without you realising. Yet at the end of the day, you find that amount of time wasted and you wish that you had done something more beneficial.
The outcome is undesirable yet you are drawn to it. This reluctance to abandon a current inferior decision is termed, by behavioural economists, the status quo bias. This is just one example of many established defects of human beings.
So we might not be purely rational. But upon assumed conformity to my definition of being rational, may I introduce some ways to improve decision making.
First, to plot a plan for your purpose. It is rational to plot plans as they grant you the clarity of what should be done. Build a time schedule and rigorously comply with it. It will reduce the time wasted and ensure the progress of your goal.
In addition to plotting a plan, it is rational to constantly re-examine our decisions, thinking of what are being forgone for our decisions. What are some potential alternatives that could be worth more in achieving your goal? If you find yourself wasting time, ask yourself what you would otherwise have done in the 3 hours spent laughing to a phone? If you are already efficient, try to experiment with your plan to see how to get more productive. Maybe an hour of exercise will do you better than studying all day long? There are many tips for improving efficiency you could easily access to, so try some of those, see if they work. They might not work for you as everybody has different goals. But if they do, then it is rational to adopt them.
Finally, perform your plan. As Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” It will be harder than it sounds. But again, remind yourself of what goals you are aiming at. Find a source of drive for you to keep on with it.
So, this is what rationality could grant you. Find goals, plot plans, constantly re-examine your plans, make resolution to execute them, and you will acquire higher efficiency in achieving your own educational benefits in the long run.