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“Productive” Procrastination

Chocolate chip muffin

Recently I found myself in the distinctly unenviable position of pulling a true all-nighter in the hope of finishing an assignment. In between high-fiving McDonalds workers at the drive-through every time I went for a coffee and a pep talk, and hissing abuse at my copy of the AGLC 3, I stumbled upon a method of procrastination that didn’t really feel like procrastinating.

As law students, we are all more than familiar with procrastination – what gets us into all-nighters in the first place? But there are different types of procrastination – some are kind of helpful, and some are just sucking up time that as law students with impending assignment deadlines, we really do not have. (Sidebar: getting an iPhone 5 and promptly downloading Temple Run three days before a due date is a mistake. LEARN FROM ME.)

The next time you feel you feel tempted to turn your attention back to Facebook, try some more practical procrastination methods to give your mind a break and help you to return to your work with renewed motivation...

Clean Some Stuff

My house is currently a revolting mess, but at assessment time things tend to get a little bit clean and shiny for once. The cleaning bug is one that tends to strike when there is nothing else left to do but your homework, so you may as well put it to good use. Have a go at cleaning out your Batcave/study area; all the empty coffee cups and Red Bull cans have to go eventually. And once it’s done you might even be more inclined to sit down and do some work, free from clutter and the take away food packaging and half-eaten two-minute noodles that were starting to smell.


No article on procrastination is complete without a mention of the greatest method of them all, procrastibaking. Little else really needs to be said, other than all time-wasting exercises are better with chocolate baked into them. With tasty snacks to fuel your thinking, it’ll be easier to get back to your readings now!

Freshen Up

If you’ve been staring at your laptop screen for ages and none of the words in your textbook make sense anymore, have a super long shower to help you feel more alert. When you’re done, put on your fuzziest pyjamas, preferably ones with cat pictures on them (or really anything but the tracksuit pants and hoodie you’ve been wearing for the past three days).

Move Around

Some people swear by exercise as a study helper. Some people also eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full, but I can’t say that I’m familiar with any of this. Look, science says that exercise is an all-round good idea, so if you’re one of the Chosen Ones who enjoys exercising and eating leafy green vegetables, go on with your bad self. Endorphins make you happy and will help you to feel more motivated when you get back to your desk.

Indulge in some Legal Inspiration

I can’t say that I have never found a way to watch Legally Blonde in study time and justify it because it’s relevant, because that would be a lie. I hereby decree that watching your favourite legal movie is productive procrastination: it gives you a study break, it makes you feel good, and at the end of it you feel motivated to be like Elle… and anything that motivates you to punch out those last 400 words of your contract law essay can’t be a bad thing.

The next time you’re struggling to pick up a pen and do some work, try some of these procrastination activities. Things like keeping your desk clean and going for a run are often neglected when a deadline rolls around, but taking time out for these essentials will help you to return to your studies feeling refreshed and motivated. The best part about them is that unlike quickly checking Facebook, they’re all finite tasks: eventually you’ll shrivel up like a prune in the shower, your house will be sparkling clean, or the credits will roll on that movie.

So good luck! And for the record, I finished my assignment.

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