How to Procrastinate Productively

Ways to stay productive without sacrificing your happiness

Art by Diego Loria-Eivins

Art by Diego Loria-Eivins

Diego Loria-Eivins, News Editor

From the standardized testing bubbles you’ve been filling in since elementary to that class you completely forgot you have a final for, the end of the trimester can get very stressful for students. Here are a few of my favorite ways to destress while still staying productive. These methods aren’t exactly scientifically proven, but they work for me so they might for you, too. 

Taking Productive Breaks

No, not scrolling through TikTok for what started as one video that quickly spiraled into, “wait it’s dark outside?” According to a study at the University of North Carolina, scrolling on your phone can overload your prefrontal cortex and leave you feeling more stressed than when you began your “break”. So what are some ways to take a break that will leave you feeling motivated when you return to your school work? Getting some sh*t done. I don’t mean clean all the gutters in your home or vacuum every piece of dust floating on top of your door frame (although you really should get around to that). Pick something small that you can achieve in five minutes. Some things I usually pick are making my bed, picking my outfit out for tomorrow and feeding my gecko (that last one may not apply to all of you). When I feel the most frustrated with my schoolwork and I feel like I’m sitting in front of my pre-calc homework for hours trying to figure out the missing side length of a triangle, taking a break where I can achieve something small makes me feel more confident to try and tackle my pile of homework (Ms. Sherman doesn’t let you guess the missing side length). 

Reality TV 

This goes against my previous advice completely but sometimes you just need a break. Not a break where you’re productive or studious. Just turn on the TV, make some nachos, some tea (or both) and just enjoy a break. Every afternoon for years my mom and I have eaten waffles or nachos and watched a show together. We’ve watched everything from murder mysteries to travel documentaries to most recently – Love is Blind. Whatever you enjoy watching, just turn it on and forget about that missing side length of the triangle. I can’t say my mom and I always get right back to work and get everything done – but I can say that it’s something I always look forward to and definitely relieves stress from the school day. 


Set a goal and work towards it. Finishing your homework feels great but it feels even better when you reward yourself with a snack afterwards or a half hour of time to text your friends. I love setting a fun thing to look forward to after I finish my homework but a snack often turns into a full course meal and a half hour of screen time snowballs into watching cat videos on YouTube for hours. One way I fixed this problem of over indulging in my breaks was to set a timer. When the timer goes off, it reminds me to return to my homework and power through until the next break.

Setting a Timer 

How fast can you get that assignment done? If you have an assignment you know you can complete with minor brain power, set a five minute timer and see how much you can get done. If you have the option, use the mode where you can see the seconds tick by. When I feel like I have hours to get my one assignment done, it’s easy to push it off and fall down the rabbit hole my phone provides me. Setting a five minute timer and hearing the ticks tick by makes me feel like I have to get the assignment done immediately. If you struggle with procrastination, this method works wonders for getting things done. If you don’t have the clock app on your phone, here’s a link to a 12-hour timer on YouTube that has a very aggressive ticking noise. 

Talk to Your Teacher 

This one can be a little nerve wracking to tell your teacher you’re struggling with getting your assignments done, but I promise the teachers at City High are actually very kind people. Did you know that the teachers get to school at 8:15 AM every morning? I come into school early most mornings to talk with Ms. Sherman and get help on my math homework. No matter how little I took in from her lesson the day before or how low of a score I got on a test, she is always eager to help me and my classmates out. 


Productivity goes down the drain when you stop trying to refocus yourself, no matter how many videos you’ve scrolled through on TikTok or YouTube – make an attempt to get some of your work done. It never has to be getting everything done in one big chunk. If you have to eat an elephant, eat it one bite at a time? That’s kind of an odd quote because why would you ever have to eat an entire elephant – but the message is there. Start with getting a fraction of an assignment done, take a break, and then come back and get another fraction done. I struggle with attention in class and school definitely doesn’t come easy to me, but by using these methods I have noticed a significant improvement in my grades and motivation to get things done.