If there is one thing I’ve learned over the last 19 years it’s how to procrastinate. In fact I’m something of a professional at it.
It isn’t that I’m lazy, or that I manage my time poorly. I juggled two jobs, two degrees and indoor netball for a while there, so I don’t have any issues organising myself. I just found that I worked best under pressure. I can’t really concentrate unless there is a target staring me in the face and threatening me with failure (I am also rigidly afraid of failure).
I think I really hit my stride once I started university, and for my entire tertiary career I don’t think I submitted a single assignment outside of the 24 hour period before it was due. Sometimes it was the night before, sometimes it was five minutes before. And at first it was terrifying, my eyes darting rapidly between the clock and my word count. But over time I relaxed. I learned who I was. And who I am is a person driven by the threat of a deadline.
I can already hear potential future employers crossing me off their short lists.
But as I waited for these impending deadlines to come to me, I learned how to procrastinate. It’s not something that comes naturally to everyone. I like keeping busy, and more importantly I need to keep busy. Wasting time really bums me out, so I learned to fill my time with activities that felt productive even though in actuality they came from a place of pure time consumption.
Here are five of my favourites: how to procrastinate productively from a professional procrastinator.
Are you reading this blog-post instead of studying for your exam? Awesome – you’re doing great. I can’t recall how many times I read random news articles or blogs or pulled books off my shelf instead of opening a textbook. But it was more often than I care to admit. At least if you’re reading you’re keeping your mind working. It’s probably a little better than a Netflix marathon, right?
Can’t concentrate on your research report? Get up, turn around, and sort your room out. My room was never cleaner than when I had a big assignment due, because even if your life is a mess, your room shouldn’t be. Clearing away the clutter and finally sorting out your floordrobe does not help with your essay writing, but it will at least make your mum happy.
This is such a common and classic form of procrastinating, it even has its own hashtag on Instagram. Not only does this fill your need to feel productive in the days leading up to exams, but you wind up with some delicious baked treats to enjoy as you cry over your textbook.
This blog is an excellent example of my side-career as a procrasti-writer. Writing about anything and everything other than what you’re supposed to be writing about might seem like a waste of creative energy to some; if you’re going to write, may as well write out your essay notes, right? Nah. At least you’re at your computer and practicing your writing skills.
I hate, hate, hate exercising. Except when I have an essay due. Exercising is a good way to burn some calories as you burn time, but it’s also really useful if you’re struggling with ideas for your assignment. Going for a walk or a swim can help clear your mind and help you to de-stress, which is often a barrier to essay writing on its own.