No one likes doing homework. I haven’t done any research on that, but I’m going to state it as a fact. It’s time consuming, exhausting and sometimes it’s seriously soul sucking. I can list at least one hundred things I’d rather be doing than the speech outline I should be working on right now, but instead, here are 10 ways to be a productive procrastinator. I use these just about every week, so even when it’s 11 p.m. and I still haven’t touched my English paper due the next morning, I can feel like I accomplished something in the last twelve hours.
1. Clean up.
The first thing I always feel motivated to do is clean. I live in an apartment-style dorm, so not only do I get to clean my bedroom, but I’m also obligated to clean my kitchen, bathroom and living room. I like to scrub down counters, change my sheets, do the laundry and so on. The best part about cleaning is that it seems to give me the energy to do more. Something about the smell of pinesol and the look of a tidy environment motivates to get my life on track, so usually cleaning will put me in the mood to do my homework.
2. Try working out.
Most college campuses have gyms that are free for students to use. Make your way over there, see what you can do for an hour. I've found that running around my gym's track for 30 minutes not only relieves a lot of my stress, but it leaves me feeling happy and motivated for the rest of the day. Not only is working out good for your physical well being, but it's fantastic for your mental health, too. As college students, we could use all the help we can get when it comes to managing our stressful workloads, and a good workout is an easy way to get that extra help whenever you need it.
3. Call Your mom/grandma/brother/uncle/friend.
If you’re not in the mood to tidy your space or sweat, I’m sure there’s someone you’ve been meaning to call the last few weeks that would love to hear your voice. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of college. There’s constant work to be done, people to be making connections with and sleep to catch up on. It can be hard to remember to call your best friend on their birthday, and while they’ll more than likely understand the stress you’re under, it won’t make your call any less welcome. Plus, if you’re really stressed, nothing is quite as calming as a chat with your number one fan. When I need that kind of a call, I always dial up my grandma. She makes sure I’m doing well, and then sends me back to my homework with a new sense of purpose - I’m making her proud.
4. Read the news.
Not everyone has someone to motivate them though, and your number one fan might not always be available. When this happens, try reading the news. It might be a bit depressing, but it’s also extremely motivating. No matter what field you’re going into, it needs improvements. You can make these changes if you know what they are and what you need to prepare for, and chances are they’ll be in The New York Times at some point.
5. Read a book.
Whether it's for a class or not, reading is important. It's calming, it can be an escape from even the worst stress and studies have shown that it is good for your brain. If you have reading for a class and can push yourself to do, then go for it! I usually end up reading an old favorite, like Harry Potter. While reading The Sorcerer's Stone might not get me ahead in my English class, it sure does make me happy. Sometimes, a mood boost like that is all it takes to give me the motivation to get some work done.
6. Take a “well-being” nap.
This is the calmest way to procrastinate, but unless you truly convince yourself you need this nap, it could be guilt-inducing later on. Make sure you really let yourself know that this nap is for your health. You need to take care of yourself before anything else, that includes your physical, emotional and mental well-being. Sometimes the only thing you need to gain the ability to function as a human is a simple nap.
7. Go through your emails.
As college students, we have more emails than what we know what to do with. Emails from schools, emails from clubs and volunteering opportunity emails, it’s never ending. It’s hard to make time to go through them on a daily basis and that’s fine. Saving your emails for all at once makes for a really fantastic way to productively procrastinate about once a week.
8. Make a plan for the rest of the week.
I used to bullet journal religiously. I would take time every Sunday night or Monday morning to draw out planner pages, cover them in washy tape and dazzle with stickers. While it kept me busy for an hour or two, it also kept me on task the rest of the week. I could plan when I would do homework, what kind of budget I was going to have for the week and what kind of dates I wanted to go on with my girlfriend. It could be as detailed as I wanted it to be any given week - but one thing was consistent: it kept me productive. The one hour I spent making it was, and still could be considered productive, if I wanted to do it.
9. Get creative.
I love to write and watercolor. If I’m doing either thing, I feel productive. There’s something about seeing an end result that makes ignoring my homework feel a little more justified, so I think that’s helpful. Plus, there’s nothing quite like writing the perfect line or learning a new technique to make me feel like I’m doing something good.
10. Write a list of productive things you could be doing.
Find a publication, get hired as a contributing writer and write a list of things you do when you should be doing homework. Not only will you be following your dreams of being a journalist, but you’ll also be getting some great writing experience in! It’s the best.
If you go through all of these and you still don’t feel like reading/writing an outline/researching etc., I post biweekly and Fresh U posts new content daily, so there will always be something new to read for you! Because yeah, I’m totally not above ending this with a shameless plug. Good luck on your procrastination adventures, and may your sleep cycle not get too messed up this semester with all the all-nighters you’re pulling.
Lead Image Credit: Bryn Estlund Photography