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Ara Uhr / Columbia Daily Spectator

Be honest. Is there an assignment you should be doing right now, instead of being online? Instead of mindlessly scrolling on Instagram or taking another nap, here’s a list of eight ways you can avoid that problem set and still feel productive. Just because you aren’t finishing that paper doesn’t mean you can’t get your life in some sort of order.

Make a to-do list

There’s something that feels inherently productive about making a bulleted checklist on a neon Post-it. This will get you motivated to do the actual work. You might not actually be accomplishing anything you need to, but you are at least thinking about accomplishing those tasks!


When’s the last time you washed your clothes? There’s nothing like a fresh set of sheets on your bed and a full wardrobe to choose from. Empty out that hamper, (or pick up your dirty clothes from the floor). While you wait for your clothes to finish in the dryer, you can take the time to knock out a quick discussion blog post or start a reading assignment.

Clean your room

Depending on how badly you don’t want to do schoolwork, you can commit to this task in varying degrees. Make your bed, clear off the top of your desk, or empty your trash can. If you want to go further, you can organize your drawers, and Marie Kondo your closet. And if you really don’t want to start that paper, grab some disinfecting wipes and a vacuum. Your academic life might be messy, but that doesn’t mean your room has to be!

Delete excess from your phone

Speaking of Marie Kondo, Marie Kondo your phone! Are all 4,672 photos on your camera roll really sparking joy in your life? What about those apps you downloaded months ago and used once, or the hordes of now-meaningless text messages? Do you really need Billy from NSOP’s phone number in your contacts? Why are you still following every person from your high school and those people you met at that one concert on Instagram? Clear your storage and bask in your now streamlined, joyful phone experience.

Address the social skeletons in your closet

If you’ve ghosted someone recently or have a confession or apology you’ve been meaning to make, now might be the time to act. Clear any personal guilt or shame and own up to your mistakes, or shoot your shot and make a move if you’ve been busy silently pining. If you find that interpersonal interaction is a distraction, address it. After all, focusing on your CC paper is hard when all you can do is think about that CC cutie.

Plan your spring break

Do you need to book a flight or train home? Still figuring out where to stay for the upcoming break? Settling your spring break plans can help give you the motivation to study and something to look forward to.

Call someone

There’s probably someone—a parent or close friend from home—that you haven’t talked to in a while. Chat with them and catch up! This will give you perspective outside of the Columbia bubble™ and hopefully motivate you to get grinding.

Read Spec!

Behind on the latest current events? Missing out on the latest controversial op-ed? While you’re here, you might as well scroll through a couple articles.

The ability to procrastinate is a privilege. If you delay every assignment, you should stop complaining about how stressed and busy you are, and actually go finish a task. Trying one (or a few) of these suggestions might put you in a productive enough mood to finally get started. Not to scare you or anything, but midterms are approaching fast. Get the work done now so you have more time to study, and take care of yourself once things start to get hectic. Good luck!

Staff writer Izzy Mollicone can be contacted at Follow Spectator on Twitter @ColumbiaSpec.

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