How to procrastinate like a pro

Sam Juniper's distraction dos and don'ts

Ironically, I’ve put off writing this all week – it’s surprisingly tedious to write 600 words about wasting time. Yet here we are, readers – you’re so eager to find distraction that you’re reading this very article alleging to help you find distraction. If you found this piece whilst scrolling through Facebook, here’s a pro tip: log off Facebook. Worse, if you consciously typed www.cherwell.org into your search bar because you thought it would be a better use of time than finishing your tutorial essay that’s due in three hours, I’m not sure if I can help you.

Like all wonderful things in life, procrastination does have its side effects: namely a lack of productivity, subsequent feelings of guilt, and the gradual dissipation of your only life on this planet. Barring some miracle breakthrough in medicine, bionics, or artificial intelligence, you can only practically do something about the first two. If you’re desperately trying to avoid working on an assignment, the best thing to do is run errands or tie up any loose ends. Sure, you won’t be any closer to the word limit, but you can find solace in the fact your room is now spotless – and you can finally see the carpet since it’s no longer hidden under piles of clothes and late-night pizza boxes!

A new hobby is a great way to absorb all your precious time and take your mind off your (seemingly endless) to-do list. I’d recommend something wholesome like sewing or origami: this will bring your mind some much-needed peace without costing a ton of money or destroying your body. Alternatively, you could get into a type of fancy food or beverage, such as cheeses, coffee, or bread. I recently received a tea strainer and some fancy tea leaves from T2 as a gift – it’s oddly pleasant to take a few minutes out of my day to brew myself a crème brûlée tea whilst thinking about how pretentious I’ve become.

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Now, if you don’t want to get stuff done, if you really want to accomplish nothing and wallow in the meaninglessness of your existence, this next bit is for you. You need to find a pastime so asinine, pointless, and absurd that it will provide nothing in the way of making you a more complete person. If anything, you should be a less adjusted member of society once you’re finished. For example, you could watch a series of an archaic reality TV show. I’m talking Big Brother 3 (2002), Season 1 of The Hills (2006), or A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila (2007)…these shows are now so culturally irrelevant that even if you did derive something of importance from them, no one would care.

I’m going to level with you: I’m struggling with this. I haven’t even been procrastinating from this by doing anything particularly interesting – I just started scrolling through the Guardian app and reading about the latest news, like the mass shooting in Florida. Shit’s fucked man. You know corporate interests have the US government in a stranglehold where they won’t act on gun control because of how lobbies like the National Rifle Association would retaliate: cutting off donations, attack ads, you name it.

There’s roughly 9,000 people who are shot fatally every year in America, yet this lot want more weapons on the street and less restrictions on who has them, as if that’s meant to make everyone safer?! It’s ridiculous. Read the news – there’s a procrastination tip for you. Become informed, help change the world, all that jazz.

If none of this is doing it for you, your last resort is to bring distraction upon yourself. Invent some horrible rumour about your friend and make sure it gets around that you created it. Boom. You’re now the centre of attention. This should take plenty of time to sort out. Thank me later.

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