For the (hopefully) last time in my University career, I am preparing for my exams. Being a postgraduate student, I find myself in an oddly calm yet panicked state. Part of my brain tells me not to worry; that I’ve done this so many times now that I’ve got it. The other half seems hell bent on making me a shaking panicked mess. Thankfully, neither side has won and this has resulted in me working feverishly for a few hours before taking a break and doing some A* procrastination.
Not everyone can work this way, and I certainly wouldn’t advise it unless you have practice. Over the past four years I’ve worked hard on being able to work quickly and efficiently, getting the job done but leaving myself time to do whatever else I want. However, whatever your working and revising style, all of us are guilty of procrastination at various levels.
The basic form is just zoning out in front of your screen for 20 minutes contemplating your own existence, and the extreme form is leaving the country for a weekend break in Frankfurt (as my friend is doing right now) insisting that you will work on the plane.
Considering this, I have compiled my five favourite ways to procrastinate, because they actually help me to work harder when I do get back to revision.
1. Lunch with family and impromptu dinner parties
I rarely see my relatives, but since my sister moved to Oxford it’s become a convenient halfway point between me in the South and my family in the Midlands. Yesterday I took the train to Oxford (actually spending as much time on the train as I did in the city) for a gorgeous lunch with my mum, aunt and youngest cousin.
Taking a day out is a great way to refresh your brain and supply a bit of extra panic to persuade you to work harder the next day. If you’re bored of revising, chances are your friends are too, so arrange to get together for some non-study related time and try and resist asking each other about coursework!
I love to nap and when I’m home all day sat at my desk, napping is my favourite escape from work. It doesn’t even matter how long I nap for, it can be 20 minutes or two hours but the effect is like rebooting your computer. I have more energy and feel more enthusiastic about working after some much-needed shut eye.
3. Playing guitar
I’m pretty sure there’s some science regarding playing musical instruments as a way of productively procrastinating. Guitars and keyboards can be cheap and don’t take up much space, and playing music gives you a sense of accomplishment, whilst also being pretty relaxing.
Again, this is perfect productive procrastination. Spend some quality time in your kitchen and learn to make a new dish or get creative with something you already know how to do. Cooking is a great excuse to close the books for an hour or two and you can set up a laptop/tablet in the kitchen with you and watch something on Netflix whilst you’re doing it.
5. Work on your favourite piece of coursework/exam
Usually I dedicate the most time to the subjects I find the hardest and the least to the ones I really enjoy. Working isn’t really procrastination, but sometimes when I’m working on an essay that I’m really in to, I get the same feeling that I should be working on something else that’s harder and with an earlier deadline.
However, all of it needs to be done in the end and by using your favourite subject as a reward for working on the harder ones, you feel much happier about still being sat at the computer after six hours!
The things we all need to stay away from are definitely sitting down and just binge-watching TV shows or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook.
Good procrastination means giving your brain a rest from work by distracting it with something else that you find interesting. If you switch off completely it’s hard to switch back on.
Good luck with exam season everyone!