How to procrastinate with a purpose

Written by Karis Leung

So it’s week 7 of the semester, and you’ve just found yourself in the foetal position on the floor, freaking out about how many assignments are due and how little you have done. And you think to yourself… how did I get to this point. It’s simple. It’s what Tim Urban calls your procrastination monkey. No matter how hard you try, you don’t seem to be able to get any actual work done. Frustrating isn’t it? You might even get despondent over your inability to function like a productive human being. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. So here’s a few things you can do to productively procrastinate; feel a lot better about yourself, while still avoiding the bulk of your work. Here we go.

1.Read your task sheet.

Yes, very self-explanatory, I know. But so many people fail to do it. Reading your task sheet is an easy first step to take when you feel overwhelmed by the task at hand and number of other assignments waiting to be started. Just remember, pick one assignment and read the task sheet.

There is this psychological phenomenon that occurs when you’re faced with the unknown. Often at times, people will feel threatened by the unknown, and with so many different unknowable variables, it can be quite overwhelming. You may be plagued with questions that are easily answerable by just reading the task sheet carefully. So take a deep breath, grab an actual pen and a piece of paper, and write out a list of all the things you need to do for this one assignment. Often times, it’s a lot less than you think.


Reading and researching your subject is the best way to do work without actually doing any of the work. (Depending on whether you like falling down the Google rabbit-hole that is.) Go on Google scholar and make a list of every article or research paper that looks like it might have something to do with your assignment. Researching and reading is time consuming but somewhat a mindless step that you can just fall into, copying and pasting links and titles into a word file.

Doing this becomes extremely helpful when your writing your assignment. Refer back to your document of sources and skim through the titles of the articles. If any of the titles look like they support your argument, cite it in your assignment. (Optional step: when writing your assessment, click into the article link you have and read the abstract. You could be inspired to write a little more, which adds to your word count.)


A classic, tried and true procrastination tactic, but you’d be surprised by the benefits of this practice. There are multiple psychological studies that found that working in a neat and tidy environment improves productivity, and it also helps alleviate stress by ticking another thing off your #adulting to-do list.


Which brings us to the next item, creating lists. Make sure you have a clear cut checklist at the start of each day to organise your day. Take at least 5 minutes out of your routine and write a checklist on a piece of paper to keep with you. Be it in a notebook or a scrap bit of paper, it’s important that you put pen to paper to consolidate all the information in your head. Most university students suffer from a lack of prioritisation, and end up with massive projects due in 2 days’ time. We’ve all been there, so make sure you realistically allocate time to each item on your checklist so you can allocate your time efficiently.


What better way to feel like an adult, than to build your personal brand. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and neat-and-tidy to appease the job search algorithms, and to appeal to future employers. If you really get stuck on how to create that fantastic profile, perhaps watch a couple YouTube videos on how to write a compelling bio, or how to detail your job descriptions to make them sound exciting.

There you go, a couple ways to procrastinate that final project, while still carrying a forward momentum in your life. Go forth and productively procrastinate!

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