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Productive procrastination

Courtesy of Pixabay.

As the middle of the quarter arrives and the initial push of Week 1 energy fades into the dreary trudge of midterm season, the underrated art form that is procrastination resurfaces. While this procrastination can manifest in all of its typical forms – taking naps, cleaning, social media use, etc. – I’ve recently discovered a new, special type of procrastination: productive hobbies.

Since taking up crocheting, I’ve found it incredibly easy to use this hobby to procrastinate because it’s both fun and productive. Scrolling on social media is fun, but no one can really claim that it’s productive (if you can, please let me know, so I can justify my bad habits). Cleaning is productive, but it’s never as engrossing as that episode of “The Office” that inevitably distracts me after 15 minutes. However, crocheting manages to find the perfect intersection of entertainment and productivity that makes returning to what I’m actually supposed to be doing infinitely harder. The mind-numbing action of completing rows and rows of stitching is unexpectedly enjoyable, and after even just an hour there’s a tangible product, reinforcing the idea that my time has been spent productively.

The interesting thing about crocheting is that it doesn’t just serve as an excellent procrastination tool on its own; it gets stronger when combined with other methods of procrastination, kind of like how Power Rangers gain strength in numbers. On its own, it can defeat the enemy assignments, but when it morphs with other procrastination tools it becomes unstoppable. For example, crocheting often morphs with Netflix and Youtube against 10 page essays or particularly stubborn p-sets, holding them off until mere hours before their deadlines. Because crocheting requires mostly repetitive hand movements rather than active mental engagement with something that’s continually changing, it is easy to combine it with other activities. Of course, these activities could be productive – such as reading for a class – but Netflix has autoplay, so you don’t have to pause in the middle of a row of stitches to turn the page or scroll down.

Part of the danger of crocheting as a hobby is the need to complete a project. It always starts reasonably, but it ends with me justifying crocheting much more than I originally intended. Leaving a half-finished mitten just doesn’t feel right. Once the glove is done, though, it needs a partner, right? After all, gloves come pairs. But what’s a pair of gloves without a scarf? It’s fine, the scarf will be the last one. Oh, but this scarf would look so good with a matching hat. There, now there’s a complete set, and it only took all weekend. Wow, I really didn’t have time to work on my essay at all. How did that happen?

The nature of productive hobbies such as crocheting, or even art or writing, is that in the search for the completion of one project, it becomes much easier to jump to the next one in an endless chain of procrastination that might result in an amazing product, but comes at the expense of homework and studying. Even so, it’s much easier to justify because there was something that came out of it, which is better than nothing, right?

Now, I’d better go finish that pset that’s due tomorrow. Actually, I should probably finish crocheting this hat first. There’ll be plenty of time to do my homework later.

 

Contact Kiara Harding at kiluha ‘at’ stanford.edu. 

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