15 Ways to Productively Procrastinate

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Procrastination—you know how it goes. You tell yourself to spend only 15 minutes on Facebook, but 40 minutes later you’ve gone through your “Recently Updated Friends” list three times, have seen all of the new photos your 750+ BFFs have uploaded in the past few days, have Facebook stalked every guy you’ve ever hooked up with, and have refreshed your homepage at least five times in hopes of seeing something new. Meanwhile, the problem set that’s due tomorrow afternoon leers at you, half-finished, on your computer screen; and your English essay for the end of the week barely has an introduction. You might feel better about having whittled away nearly an hour of prime homework time if you had done something even slightly worthwhile—Facebook stalking, however, hardly counts as productive.

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Procrastination is inevitable. Whether your distraction of choice involves “Law & Order: SVU” marathons or Spider Solitaire, it is pretty much set in stone that you’ll find a way to not do what you’re supposed to: your homework. So instead of freaking out about how much time you wasted (and making empty promises never to do it again), procrastinate in a way that’s useful. Here are 15 ways to get work done in multiple areas of your life without opening up a textbook.

  • Go to the gym.  Sometimes it seems like you never have enough time to exercise. After a long day of going to class and participating in extracurricular activities, going to the gym can feel like a luxury instead of a priority. But if you’re thinking of spending some quality time away from your textbooks, you might as well work on your fitness, right? Thirty minutes of exercise time is better than no gym time at all. A half hour of spinning, running, or lifting gives you more energy, lowers stress, and boosts levels of concentration after your workout. Plus, there are plenty of cuties at the gym—you never know when someone might need you to spot them…
  • Look up jobs, internships, and scholarships.  Instead of clicking through Flickr accounts or pressing “Random Search” on Wikipedia ad infinitum, try going on job-related search binges. If you still have a year or more ahead of you in school, see what scholarships or grants are available for undergraduate students. Find out if there are any part-time gigs on-campus if you need some extra cash, or see if there are any internship opportunities available in your city. Websites such as internqueen.com, internships.com, ed2010.com, or internabroad.com post incredible options for work experience in the States, but also overseas. You’ll be way more proud of yourself to have stumbled across a job, than to have stumbled upon an awesome video.
  • Buy tickets for future trips.  Whether you’re just going home for the holidays, or are planning a trip with friends, you’re going to need tickets for transportation. Procrastinate productively by researching the best prices for bus, train, or plane tickets, and purchasing those tickets in advance. It’ll be a relief to get your travel plans set before the costs start to skyrocket, as they always do.  And while you’re at it, why not research the best restaurants in your potential spring break locale as well?
  • Clean up.  There’s almost always laundry to be done or a mess to be cleaned up when you’re in college. If you’ve put off washing a load of clothing, or if there are still dishes in your sink from the rager quiet get-together you had over the weekend, take a breather and get those things done. Even though I can tolerate a certain degree of clutter, I become pretty frazzled when my personal space is too messy. Doing a bit of housekeeping might make it easier for you to concentrate and be productive, and you might stumble across some important papers that you shoved away in your room when company called.
  • Update your resume.  You never know when an internship or a job opportunity will catch your eye, and how soon your prospective employers might ask about any work experience you have. If you want to take a study break, use that time to update your resume. Since career center advisors usually ask to see your resume (and some graduate schools even allow you to submit one with your application), it would be a good idea to have those things already prepared. Keep track of everything you have been doing: were you active in student government this semester? Is there any new coursework that relates to the job you’re applying for? Did you of a really good idea for an independent study after talking to friends? Once you’ve figured all of that out, organize all of your notes and put them together in an awesome portfolio or resume case for all to see.  Check out this article for more tips on how to put together an awesome resume.
  • Practice performing.  Take a break from homework to run through lines for an upcoming play, practice your drum solo, or memorize the song you’ll be performing with you’re a capella group. You’ll technically still be doing schoolwork, but singing “Glee”-style or making sure that you’re black box theater-ready is likely to be more enjoyable than just reading a play for class. And if you don’t do performing arts on campus, just blast some music and have a solo dance party!  It never hurts to brush up on your moves in advance of the next formal you might attend.

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About The Author

Judith is a senior at Washington University in St. Louis with a double major in English and Spanish and a minor in Creative Writing. She is Co-Editor-in-Chief of Spires, a literary magazine on the WashU campus, and a former features intern for Seventeen and Marie Claire. A proud nerd whose greatest joys include LexisNexis and thesaurus.com, Judith can usually be found looking for new music or espousing the wonders of Twitter, Harry Potter, and late 16th century English Literature to anyone willing to listen. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Judith plans to explore as much of St. Louis as she can in her final year of college--even without a car (or a learner's permit...).