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Ravalations: Professional procrastination


According to my calculations, we’re in the middle of week eight, which means two things: that summer is right around the corner and that most students are finding themselves buried under all the final papers and presentations that accompany the school year’s end. But in typical Stanford student fashion, the more work we have, the more ways we conjure to avoid it.

Procrastinating is as natural to us as being busy is, and since most people tend to spend their time procrastinating on Facebook and my last column was all about getting people to take Facebook a little less seriously (which starts with spending less time on the site), I decided to compile a list of the best ways to procrastinate properly and productively. After all, if you can’t beat them, join them.

So without further ado, I present the tips to professional procrastination:

1. Call home.

Calling home is a fantastic way to procrastinate. Not only does it force those of us who are bad at staying in touch to check in and remind our families that we are still alive, but it’s also fail-proof, considering that your parents will never get mad at you for spending time catching up with them. Plus, chances are you’ll end this phone call a little more motivated than when you started it. Parents are really good at saying things like “I know you’ll do great on your midterm!” even when you know this may not be true.

2. Do your laundry or clean your room.

Cleaning is just not fun, and chances are, you rarely ever want to do it. However, chances also are that you find your problem set even less fun than you find cleaning. So if you’re really dreading your work, try taking a break and channeling that energy into vacuuming your floor or hauling your clothes down the three flights of stairs to the laundry room. You may not get your problem set done, but at least you’ll be able to wear your favorite shirt and look good tomorrow when you hop on your bike three minutes before the p-set is due so you can turn it in.

3. Go get food or coffee.

Picture this: you’re sitting around with all of your friends. Everyone is working on their own thing, whether that’s writing a PWR paper or studying for a Chem 135 midterm, when suddenly one person lets out a loud sigh and says, “I’m starving. Late Nite, anyone?” Next thing you know, the person to your right is talking about how they definitely need to tag along so they can get a cup of coffee, and you start thinking about how you could probably use a cookie as a little pick-me-up, even though you’re not that hungry. Ten minutes later, you’re all at Late Nite sitting around a table, laughing, talking, running into other friends, basically doing everything but working, and this continues for at least 30 minutes. Getting food is the perfect way to procrastinate. After all, no one is ever going to challenge the legitimacy of your hunger, and you can always make yourself feel better about trekking over to Arrillaga or Lakeside by telling yourself that the energy drink you just bought will get you through the rest of your assignment/night.

4. Make to-do lists.

I’m fairly positive I spend more time making to-do lists than I spend doing the things on them. That having been said, writing down all the things you have to do and making a schedule of when you plan on doing them and how long they will take is usually a safe procrastination technique. In most cases, the sheer length of your list should scare you into getting started on your work.

5. Go jump in a fountain.

With the weather having been so nice lately, it’s hard to miss the groups of students splashing around in the fountains. When it gets too hot to focus, just tell yourself that fountains are the most efficient way to cool off, slip into your bathing suit and go dive in (except not literally since you’ll hurt yourself). I highly recommend the newest fountain, which is located behind the Thornton Center and is a total beauty.

So there you have it — the tools for proper procrastination. Hopefully, using any of the above will leave you a lot happier and a little less prone to further procrastination than when you started. Happy procrastinating Stanford!


Still feel like procrastinating? Send Ravali an email at ravreddy “at” stanford “dot” edu!

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