How to make the most of wasting your time

A defense of a slow-paced lifestyle


If you have been to New York City, you will know that life there moves at an unprecedented pace. In a city where everyone is in a rush, my lack of purpose and motivation was really put into perspective. Granted, I was there as a tourist, but I found myself rushing from gallery to gallery, monument to monument — just to try and fit in with the commuters passing me by at lightning speed. 

While I commend and admire those who live their lives efficiently and quickly, I am also an advocate of living life at a slower pace. To sit back and relax is just as valuable as staying up that extra hour later to do a little bit more work. Here, I have tried to compile a list of ways that you can procrastinate properly and fully embody the platitude that “time you enjoyed wasting is not wasted time.”

Procrastinate properly

I am an unashamed procrastinator. Homework in my room is not an option until every piece of clothing is folded and put away, the surfaces are cleared and the room has been vacuumed within an inch of its life. And then there’s always the kitchen. Or the living room. And suddenly the day is over and you’re living in a spotless and meticulously organized house without even having opened a book.

Recently I have been wrestling against my procrastination. I realized that going cold turkey is perhaps not achievable — yet — so I have tried to channel my energy into procrastination that actually lets my mind rest. Examples of these include reading a book that is totally unrelated to your course — that you are reading for the pleasure of reading — or going for a walk. Both of these things — while being irrelevant to getting an A in your class — give you the rest that you need as well as putting you in the right frame of mind to be productive.

Everything in moderation

If you’re reading this and thinking that your binge of “The Office” is not only justified but actually central to a successful university career, I fear that you may be lost. My friends can attest to the fact that my dedication to Netflix is unrivaled and by all degrees impressive in its longevity and breadth. To this degree, I cannot sit and defend a TV habit.

However, there is something to be said for an intermingling of “highbrow” and “lowbrow” activity. If you have just spent all day discussing and thinking about existential problems that have plagued humanity, it is probably the case that your brain needs a rest.  In that vein, sitting down to an episode of “Keeping up with the Kardashians” may be just what you need — maybe. As opposed to using work-time to keep up your TV habit, isolate certain times when you can do this and feel completely guilt-free.

Teach yourself to shut off

In an increasingly digital age, “switching off” is becoming difficult. Procrastination and breaks from work consist more and more of scrolling through Instagram and Facebook. One of the most important things to remember when enjoying time-wasting is to do things that leave you feeling re-energized and your brain feeling like it’s had a rest. It is a seemingly obvious thing to say and a party-line trotted out by professors and parents.

I am extremely guilty of it, too and constantly find myself using my various social media platforms to “switch-off” and tune out. If you are like me, a five-minute break will quickly run into half an hour, and then suddenly an hour later you can successfully reel off what Katie from 10th grade had for breakfast, but not much more. Instead, indulge in productive procrastination and give yourself a real break.   

In a period when mental health issues are at the forefront of University discussions and student life, I think it is important to be considering the time and workload pressures that are placed on students — particularly at a school where the standards are high and work pressures correspond. The advice of teachers everywhere to “use your time wisely” has never been more imperative. Let yourself switch off and have a break from the pressures of work without feeling guilty for doing it.

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