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Productive Procrastination: Meaningful Ways to “Waste” Time

It’s that time of the year again: the final projects are piling up, deadlines are looming, and summer is so close that you can almost hear the waves crashing at your favorite beach. However, all that work can feel super overwhelming, and it’s easier than ever to spend four hours on TikTok and only 15 minutes on your homework. We’ve all spent time in the “dark playground,” or when you’re actively procrastinating and feel horrible while doing it. It’s a lot easier said than done to put down your phone and focus, but who said avoiding your homework had to be boring? Here are some ways to give yourself a break (and maybe even motivate you to be productive, too).

Do something creative!

Finding something easy and artistic that you love to do is a great way to take a break from screens. There are so many easy hobbies to pick up like knitting, doodling, painting, coloring, bringing back friendship bracelets, or even just scrolling through Pinterest to get inspired.

Cook or grab a fun meal.

It’s easy to reach for ramen and granola bars when life gets hectic, so why not combine your Netflix time with putting together a nourishing meal? Things like smoothies or protein bowls are easy to throw together, and then you’ll have fuel to (maybe) think about starting your homework.

Try a five-minute dopamine rush.

The best solution to feeling sluggish or overwhelmed is to spend five minutes doing something that gets your blood flowing. It could be dancing to music, jumping jacks, Mario Kart, screaming in your car, calling a friend, sending a risky text, or making your favorite coffee/tea. Getting yourself moving and getting your heart rate up has been proven to help focus and productivity in the long run!

Get outside!

Although staying in bed is cozy, nothing can beat getting a little sun and fresh air. Being present in nature can also make that one paper seem insignificant and not as overwhelming in the grand scheme of things. A nature walk or picnic is a super easy way to spend some time outside, and it will leave you feeling grounded and refreshed.

Redecorate or clean.

Sometimes anything sounds better than doing homework, even doing laundry or cleaning your floor. It can even be a good motivator to slowly chip away at your to-do list — is it really procrastination if you just want to have a clean room before starting your work? Rearranging your desk or room also gives you a fresh workspace that switches up your normal routine.

Trick yourself into being productive!

When all else fails and it seems impossible to ever start your work, sometimes you have to trick your mind into getting stuff done. Although multitasking might not be the best for your brain or focus, it can be a really good jumping-off point to get into the flow of working. Paint your nails while you watch lectures, watch TV while you fold laundry, listen to your favorite music while you read for school — anything that will get you started.

Procrastination can be really challenging to navigate, as it seems so easy to just sit down and work, and it’s just as easy to get frustrated with yourself when you can’t. Knowing that you are smart, capable, and have made thousands of deadlines before can help ease procrastination anxiety, but it’s also important to give your brain a break when it needs it. Sometimes all you need is a little TLC to finish the school year strong. :)

Katherine Dickey

U Mass Amherst '24

Katherine Dickey is currently an environmental conservation major at UMass and is interested in education, film, and sustainability. Outside of school, Katherine loves playing piano, making vegetarian food, and spending time outside at the beach. She is super excited to be a member of CHAARG, PITCH, and Her Campus at UMass!
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