All my life I’ve been the first person to finish tasks, homework, and assignments. I never understood why exactly this was the case; it’s definitely not that I’m smarter than everyone-or even that I was faster. It was that I was more efficient. I learned the art of productive procrastination- putting off a big, more important assignment by occupying my time with tiny, less important assignments.
Okay, yes- ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m the most impatient person they’ve ever met. While my inability to stop and wait has its downsides (especially when I have to sit through an hour-long lecture about statistics), it’s helped me find productive ways to use my time.
If I know I have a paper coming up in the next few weeks I try to think about the best way to go about it in the upcoming weeks whenever I have free time. The essay question will always be in the back of my mind, even as I put away my laundry- that way when it comes time to write the paper it’s almost like I have an entire mental outline in my head ready to go.
Making Busywork Your New Distraction
I’ve gotten into the habit of turning to small assignments when I’m burned out instead of my Tiktok FYP. If I have a paper due on Friday and readings throughout the week, I’ll “procrastinate” writing my paper by getting through my assigned articles. Just this simple trick alone has created enough free time in my evenings to continue binging the latest Netflix shows, catch up on the new Tiktok trends, and read some books for fun.
So, the next time you have an urge to turn on Netflix to distract from your upcoming final, try to turn to some small homework assignments instead. That way, your work won’t pile up and you’ll still be efficient while you take your mind off of your next big deadline.
Any pre-recorded lecture I put on two-times speed like many college students probably do, and I know keywords to look out for when reading fifty-page articles for class. I also make sure to combine any assignments I have for classes in the same time period.
For example, for one class I may have to listen to a Ted talk, so I’ll pay attention to that as I read an article for a political science class. In between my study sessions and classes, I fill the silence with the latest American Psychological Association podcast while simultaneously writing articles, like these. Obviously, this double-tasking won’t work for everyone- especially if you have a one-track mind. I’m lucky enough to live with constant chaos in my mind, which can be debilitating if I ever want to stop and chill- but continuously brainstorming definitely has its perks.