I'll admit it: I am an avid procrastinator. I know that there are probably a million different things I need to do at a given moment, but I just can't help myself! Whenever I sit at my desk and open up my textbook, checking my phone becomes an immediate necessity.
So, when my cousin revealed that he was just like me when it came to doing work, I was rather relieved. However, what was different about his approach to procrastination was that he was active about it. For example, instead of doing his assignments, he would procrastinate by focusing on developing one of his hobbies. I, on the other hand, would simply just waste my time doing nothing. That got me thinking: if procrastination is inevitable, why not do it properly and 'waste time' effectively?
1) Make a long-term to-do list
Usually, a typical work session starts with me writing out all the tasks I need to tackle. More often than not, however, my motivation disappears and I find myself watching cooking videos on YouTube well before I finish even creating the list. I convince myself that I'll be done after two more videos, but we all know that's not true. So, I let slip another day to complete and utter waste.
This ineffective approach to work will rarely result in a productive outcome, let alone completion of all your tasks. Therefore, one way to battle this dilemma is to create a long-term to-do list. This is a fun and exciting way to be productive! Although you aren't actually doing the work you had anticipated doing, this will make you think about your life in the long term.
To make this process more engaging, you can separate the list into different sections: career, hobbies, self-care, and more! This is your opportunity to ask yourself what you really want to do. However, don't pressure yourself too much while making this list! Remember: you're trying to procrastinate productively, not retreat into an existential crisis.
2) Plan a holiday trip
This branches off slightly from the technique mentioned previously, because now, we focus purely on planning your perfect holiday! This is perhaps one of my favorite ways to 'waste time' effectively because it acts as an informative and useful way to procrastinate. It inspires me to research different countries, traditions, and cuisines, and the need to make cost-effective decisions aids in the development of my leadership and decision-making skills.
3) Analyze what you're watching
If one of the main ways of procrastination for you is to watch movies or shows, this method may be just for you. Although I'm more of a movie fan, I believe that both movies and shows have a lot to teach us. For example, for three years, I took Food and Nutrition as one of the courses in my school. To practice the practical element (cooking) of the course, I would often watch Masterchef Australia. This greatly helped me out because not only did it provide me with ideas for dishes I could potentially cook, but it also gave me ideas for plating, which was another criterion that we were marked on.
Watching a movie or series doesn't have to be a passive process, because you can transform it into an activity you intellectually benefit from! The next time you find yourself procrastinating like this, grab your writing tools and jot down your thoughts about the characters, plots, or even what they make you feel. After you finish watching, you can write a short review on a Word document.
Keep doing this every time you procrastinate and soon, you will see that you have built your own repertoire of reviews that you can share with your family and friends. Furthermore, if you take English (or any essay-based subject) as a course, this method will aid in evolving your critical-thinking and writing skills!
4. Catch up with friends
One of the nicest ways to spend time is by having meaningful conversations with people. Throughout the countless hours you've spent in school and clubs, you surely have met a lot of friends, and you may have even exchanged numbers with some of them. However, it's almost impossible for you to maintain strong bonds with every single one of them. That's not necessarily because you don't care about them, but because you simply do not have enough time.
Therefore, why not use some of the time procrastinating to catch up with the people with whom you have lost connection? Send them a text, or if you're feeling bold, give them a call! Ask them what they've been up to, how their life is going, and how they like to procrastinate. And you never know: you guys may even end up being friends for life! (And that would all be because you decided to procrastinate effectively!)
5. Practice or learn an instrument
Schoolwork can be demanding, which often results in sacrificing time for the things you wish you could do, such as playing your favorite instrument. This technique of effective procrastination is inspired by my cousin, who often procrastinates by practicing his guitar (and is amazing at playing it!). Doing so may help you relax your mind or maybe even help you discover your passion for music, so, when you find yourself procrastinating, why not pick up an instrument and play it?
6) Plan your meals
If you love to cook, this idea may be just right for you! We often tell ourselves, “Starting tomorrow, I will eat right.” The truth is that eating a balanced diet is difficult to implement into our modern, convenience-food-driven lifestyles. However, we all know it's not impossible. You can set aside some of your procrastination periods to plan your meals.
First, you could separate a blank document into sections for the three meals of the day and snacks. Then, you can take the liberty to structure your meals the way you like. You can either take a core ingredient (for example, a particular vegetable) to incorporate into all three of your meals. Alternatively, you can plan each meal individually. Any way you choose to do it, try to make each meal nutritious and have fun with it.
The great thing about planning your own meals is that every aspect is up to your liking: the portion size, the types of food, and the cooking method. This will also provide you with the opportunity to explore different cuisines and broaden your palate.
7) Trick yourself into doing the work
Say that you have an assignment that's due the next day, or even worse, in a couple of hours. However, you lack the motivation to do it and, as a result, lapse into procrastination (despite knowing that this is not the correct thing to be doing right now). So, what can you do? Whilst procrastinating, you can trick yourself into doing the work. If you're on the phone, tell the person at the other end of the line that you'll be back in just a moment and go into a different room. Grab a pen and paper and write the title of your assignment on top. Underneath the title, start breaking down the assignment as much as possible. For example:
1) Clean your desk;
2) Set out your books, stationery, and laptop;
3) Open up a Word document;
4) Write your name and the date;
5) Separate the assignment into sections...
...And so on and so forth! Make as many bullet points as you need to and slowly begin to approach the assignment. Once you have completed one task, make sure to cross it off and bask in the fact that you are one step closer to finishing your assignment!
8) Plant more trees
While procrastinating, why not do something that will benefit your environment? As simple as it sounds, planting more trees in your community can be beneficial to both the people and the ecosystem. I would also recommend planting a variety of trees to increase the biodiversity within your area and combat climate change.
I know this sounds a little intimidating and you may be thinking, "How much of a difference can I really make just by planting a few trees?" However, the thing is, Rome wasn't built in a day. What you will be doing is contributing to making your environment a cleaner place for everyone else.
Moreover, simply strolling amidst trees and plants enhances your mood, helping to reduce stress and improve your mental well-being. So, get your friends and family involved, and maybe even start an Online Tree Planting Club!
9) Teach English to non-native speakers
This one is close to my heart because English is not my first language. Thinking back now, I would've loved it if someone were there for me to help me out when I was first learning. Therefore, it would be a great activity to partake in because, after all, non-native speakers are a part of your community.
The process does not have to be difficult. All you have to do is look around: they may be a classmate, a neighbor, or just someone you know. Approach them and offer to help them teach English, and before you know it, this may even build into something bigger than you had imagined. You can arrange the sessions over any online platform and decide how long they will last. An hour a week? Two lessons per week? Completely up to you. Then, lead the lessons by simply having everyday conversations in English with them. You will be giving a lot back to your community and the positive change will be visible right before your eyes. I encourage you to grab this opportunity to make someone's life a little better.
10) Give yourself a second chance
This is perhaps the simplest, yet the most difficult, way to 'procrastinate'. All you have to do for this one is to leave the room that you plan to do the work in for a few minutes. Go somewhere else (perhaps on a walk, or have a little snack) and then return to your desk with a fresh mindset. Then, sit yourself down on your chair, tuck yourself in, take a deep breath, and begin. It's much easier said than done, but you have to give yourself a chance! If you really can't focus and have to procrastinate, you can try out some of the techniques mentioned above.
So, the next time you procrastinate and don't feel like doing the work, I hope that you will benefit from some of these ideas and manage to say, “At least, my day wasn't a complete waste!”