Whether you're writing an essay, editing a novel, or just cleaning the flat, procrastination is always sure to rear its ugly head. Procrastination occupies the middle ground between work and play, but doesn't really count as either. Like watching an Adam Sandler film, you've got to work hard to pretend you enjoy procrastination. Time spent twiddling your thumbs doesn't, however, have to be wasted time; here are 12 ways to make the most out of your procrastination. Hopefully they'll help you get your work done.
1. Drink Green Tea.
There are a lot of health benefits attached to Green tea. Supposedly, it speeds up the metabolism, (therefore increasing weight loss) can kill bacteria that cause tooth decay, and can help prevent cancer. If that's not enough, Theanine, an amino acid naturally found in tea leaves, helps us to relax and, when we're relaxed, it's much easier to get on with some work. Having a regular cup of green tea is also a great reward for work completed and, if you are writing something, those regular trips to the bathroom will give you time to think up some brilliant ideas.
2. Go Paint A Fence
At University, I went to see a guy about essay writing tips. We discussed my aspirations to be a novelist, and he suggested the best work for a novelist was menial warehouse work. This didn't sound like my cup of tea (haha) but he was right. I've worked in a restaurant, a clothes shop, a warehouse, a cinema, a fast food restaurant, a car wash, and had enough paper rounds to knacker Postman Pat, and each one was great for letting the mind wander. They certainly were not the most exciting jobs, but all were quite physical (which helps get the mind ticking) and required a degree of planning, which is great for being able to think critically and structure essays and other work.
3. Become A Social Media Addict
Addict might be a strong word, but there's a real danger of this in a world where every meal is instagrammed and we have to check in on FB whenever we leave the house. Social media, is though, a great way to promote yourself and your work, whether this be fiction, journalism, a band, or home-made t-shirts. By the time you've checked through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Goodreads, Vine, Tumblr and your emails, you should be fed up enough to actually want to get on with work. It's either that, or spend all day locked in a depressing cycle of refreshing the page, hoping that guy you had one seminar with has uploaded even more photos of his auntie's 50th birthday.
4. Have A Plant In Your Workspace
Everyone loves house plants; ithey're like bringing the outdoors, indoors! Having a plant on your desk is, I think, a bit like having a picture of a Hawaiian beach on your prison cell wall. Both are reminders of nature, of something better out there, that you can go and enjoy once you've finished your time. If you are an actual murderer, having a plant in your prison cell might not help you much, but you never know. Also, plants need to be watered and maintained, which is a great distraction for a few minutes. I like to give my plant my cold dregs of green tea, because plants need to be healthy too, yeah?
5. Watch Some Videos
If you're working from home, and find yourself a little bored...a little frustrated with how things are going, why not take a break and watch a few videos online? Afterwards, you'll be much more relaxed and your mind won't be as distracted. You'll also feel happier for having a little...break...and feel better about getting on with your work afterwards.
6. Go To The Gym
When you're really fed up with work, but trapped at your desk, it can feel like you're starting to climb the walls. Get up, go out and go lift some weights, or run on the treadmill for half an hour. It's great to turn your mind off and focus your energy into something physical, rather than mental. If you're the sort of person who's unable to turn their mind off, going for a run is a great time to sift through your ideas and see what really works. I must have ran a fair few marathons whilst thinking through my novel, 'A Departure'.
7. Read A Book, Or Watch A Film
Whether you're trying to write a novel or an essay, taking a break to read a book (or even some great articles online) is a great way to refresh your mind. No doubt you'll read a sentence or two which leap off the page and give you fresh ideas. There's nothing like seeing writing done properly to help spur your own writing on. Watching a film can also help if you're struggling to be creative. Nothing works better than seeing how scenes and ideas can be visualised.
8. Go Out And Do Something Different
A few weekends ago, I found myself with nothing to do. My first novel was finished, all the edits were completed, and my second novel was under the trusty gaze of my agent. I had nothing to work on for the first time in months and was at a loss. This is great when you're a student, but I graduated last year and feel like I need to make amends for all those days spent in bed. Anyway, luckily it was my mate's birthday last weekend and go-karting was on the cards. I'd never been, but found it to be flippin' brilliant. The next day I went rock-climbing with some other friends, something I hadn't done in years. Come Monday, I was knackered and full of new ideas for articles and stories, and the weekend hadn't been wasted.
9. Make Work Seem Like A Treat
When Rodney's having a hard time with Cassandra in Only Fools and Horses, Uncle Albert suggests to Del that Rodney needs a counter-worry, a king-size mars bar of a worry to the initial snack size worry. The same applies for work. If you know you've got to write 1,000 words or three pages per day, find yourself something else that you reaaaally don't want to do. Go visit your racist grandma, or engage your parents in a conversation about how they met. After this, work will seem like a fantastic escape.
Re-visit An Earlier Project.
This works on the same principles as the previous point, but I don't have an Only Fools and Horses reference for it. We've all got those things we started and gave up on, whether it's a novel or a jigsaw of baked beans. If you're struggling with your current project, it might be the time to go back and dig that abandoned project out of the bottom of the drawer and give it another wack. If you do end up giving up again, there's always the chance that you'll have thought of some new ideas for your latest project.
11. Get Hammered
Go get hammered. Go out and drink (responsibly) until you can hear colours and see sounds. There's nothing like a hangover to fill you with guilt and make you vow to turn your life around. These resolutions might not last too long, but hopefully you'll get at least a little bit of work done out of it. If nothing else, you'll have some new stories to sit around and chew over with your mates, and isn't that the best bit of getting rat-arsed?
12. Write Lists About Procrastinating
Pretty self-explanatory, this one.
Tom Ward is a 23 year-old British writer and winner of the GQ Norman Mailer Award. He has been described as 'Quite possibly the best young writer in the country' by bestselling author Tony Parsons.
Follow Tom Ward on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TomWardWrites