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Procrastinating Productively: When You Just Don’t Want to Work

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at McGill chapter.

I’m sure that many of you can relate: sometimes, you just don’t want to do work. You have no other real plans, but the motivation to get work done just isn’t there. During these times, I usually reach for my phone or laptop, and I end up mindlessly scrolling through my social media feeds for a few hours. I always feel guilty afterwards, because, for the most part, nothing productive comes out of this decision. So, for those of you who are as familiar as me with the distasteful feeling of wasted time, I have compiled a list of activities that you could do if you really don’t feel like doing work, but would rather not use up the time aimlessly.

1. Clean:

This is my number one way to avoid getting that guilty feeling when I’m procrastinating. It works because you get results pretty much immediately — whether it be to tidy desk, an empty sink or a clean bathroom — you feel a sense of accomplishment even though you weren’t actually doing what you were supposed to be doing. Cleaning is also something that you will eventually have to do anyway, so it really isn’t the wrong option here.

2. Plan the rest of your week or month:

There’s something satisfying about filling up your planner with things to do. Maybe you don’t feel like doing much right now, but filling up your planner will guarantee that you will have things to do later when you do feel more motivated.

3. Journal:

Keeping a journal is a great way to organize your thoughts, express your emotions, and to get to know yourself a little bit better. The mental break that it gives you might also help you overcome your writer’s block, motivation bump, or whatever else was keeping you from doing work in the first place.

4. Cook or bake:

Many of my friends tell me that cooking or baking is a way to relieve stress for them. Although I can’t empathize with them completely on this one, I do understand that the methodical motions from these two activities can inspire creative juices. You’ll also get a delicious treat (hopefully) afterwards!

5. Do other work:

Try switching gears and doing work for another course. It won’t really be a break, but sometimes all you need to jumpstart your brain is a new way of doing things.

6. Read a book:

Sometimes you just need to stop thinking about the task at hand and be led into a completely different universe, a different life, or a different perspective. Reading a well-written book will also give you a sense of satisfaction. It’s not just novels that will do the trick either: memoirs, autobiographies, poetry, or even short stories will work too. Currently, I have on hand Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami to keep me company at my desk. 

So, next time you have a billion things to do and don’t feel like doing any of them, try one of these listed activities instead and see where it leads you!



Cover image obtained from Pexels

Body images courtesy of:

Eric Rothermel via Unsplash

pouce_photography via Pixabay

Oldiefan via Pixabay 




Michelle is a graduate student at McGill University studying the intersection between diet and cancer. In her free time, she enjoys reading, sampling poutine restaurants, and taking pictures of flowers.