Article: Legitimate procrastination

Originally posted here for The University of Sheffield (ForgePress) on 06/05/2013

Pre-edit version:


The exam period is perhaps the most stressful time in a student’s life, so naturally we will do anything to get out of actually knuckling down and doing some work. I am ashamed to admit that I think I took procrastination to its ultimate level when I re-joined Neopets. I am twenty years old.

I’m not saying procrastination is always a bad thing, we all need breaks, but perhaps there is a way of doing it in a way that is more legitimate than staring at Facebook.

There is a non-profit organisation called TED, who allow some of the most brilliant minded people to speak to an audience and then post the talks online for free. They stand to “spread ideas” and their website is basically the best way to learn and discover new and amazing things.

Here are some videos I recommend:

Barry Schwartz: The paradox of choice

This is a talk that will make you re-think your beliefs on the positivity of freedom. We live in a world where we have so much choice and Schwartz suggests this only makes us unhappier. We are all guilty of saying “there’s nothing on” whilst flicking through hundreds of TV channels, so this is relevant to all of us, and will at least make you think more than watching Jeremy Kyle ever will.

Susan Cain: The power of introverts

If you are like me and shudder at the thought of group work and giving presentations, this video will make you feel slightly better about yourself. Susan Cain talks about how being an extrovert shouldn’t be the most important thing we strive towards. So if you’re feeling nervous about a presentation you’ve got to give soon, watching this will probably help you with and give you a break from work.

Matthew Winkler: Who invented writing?

Ted-ed is a relatively new aspect to the site and is a collection of videos that act as teacher for some incredibly interesting subjects. Who invented writing is the perfect example to demonstrate and answers a question I can’t believe I never asked. This is definitely way more productive and interesting than googlemapping your house, so I’d definitely suggest giving some of the lessons a look, even if it’s just so you can have some interesting party facts for when you’re too sober to launch effortlessly into a conversation with strangers.

Finally, I present to you the king of legitimate procrastination:


This is a website that donates ten grains of rice to feed the hungry every time you answer a question correctly. For example, it will ask you “10 x 4” and give you multiple choice answers. The more you answer the harder they get, and there is a variety of subjects, so not only does it help others it helps you train your mind. This is the best and most worthy form of procrastination available to everyone, so get answering!