How to be productive while wasting time

academic advice study skills
By Yooni

One thing that I didn’t really realize until I got into the middle of college is that concentrating is actually a really difficult and daunting task. Sure, when you’re in high school, you have much more frequent deadlines, and you may not necessarily have the luxury of NOT concentrating (even if you are a procrastinator). But coming into college, for me at least, it was a lot less frequent homework that is also much more difficult, and my brain found that hard to wrap its brain around.

School doesn’t really teach you that it is important to “waste time” (AKA take productive breaks). This was a lesson that I didn’t really learn until I did a training module for work that related to increasing productivity. Through this module I learned a few important lessons: keep note of/organize the tasks that you should be doing, don’t be afraid to ask for help (as it may, in fact, decrease the amount of time you spend on said work), and don’t be afraid to take breaks when you need it!

This was a tactic I proceeded to employ in my schoolwork, and it did wonders for how stressed I was, and honestly, the quality of my work. It’s very easy to rush your work when you are not taking the breaks you need from it – you may rush the ending because you want to get it over with. As a computer science major, I actually often found that when I was stuck on a specific coding bug, looking at it with fresh eyes after a few hours actually helped me find the error I was missing by staring at my own code for too long!

So here are a few things I would think about doing to “productively waste time”: read a few pages of a fiction novel, go on a walk, make (and drink) some tea or coffee, make a snack, chat with friends, bask in the sunlight, reflect about my week in my journal, or go exercise. Of course, these are tactics that work for me, so don’t take my word for it. But why not try taking a break if you need it?

Yooni graduated from Harvard College with a double concentration in computer science and psychology. She has interned primarily as a front-end developer intern at several companies in the past.

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