A guide to feeling productive when you don’t have anything to do

Alexander Hong/Staff

Related Posts

If you lost your internship, had your study abroad program canceled or are waiting for classes to start this summer, chances are you’ve been sitting around for the last few weeks with pretty much nothing to do. In a highly competitive environment such as UC Berkeley, feeling unproductive can be crushing. And when you actually have nothing to do, how are you supposed to motivate yourself? There are plenty of ways to still feel productive even if you don’t have any deadlines or midterms! Check out these ideas to turn your endless hours of Netflix into organized days that will make you feel motivated for tomorrow.

Set an alarm for a normal hour

If you’ve been saying good morning to your parents at 1 p.m., it might be time to actually set an alarm. Sleep is important, but waking up at a regular hour and starting your day can really help you feel like you’re able to get work done. It can be hard to make yourself take on a project or complete a task if it’s already time for dinner when you wake up. Alternatively, because you have more flexibility with your day, you could try out a new sleep schedule and see what works best for you. Maybe the nocturnal life works for you! 

Eat actual meals — don’t just snack all day

When you don’t have a set schedule, it’s pretty easy to just end up eating bags of chips and carrot sticks all day. As delicious as these chips may be, they aren’t very nourishing and they definitely add to the endless feeling of a day that isn’t broken up by meals. Giving yourself specific tasks such as making breakfast, lunch and dinner can help you organize your day, even when you don’t have a real reason to organize it. At the very least, you can work on your cooking skills — now is the perfect time to bust out that Food Network recipe you’ve been meaning to try.

Take a walk or get outside in some capacity

Being active is a little more difficult than usual right now. Gyms are closed, and when the temperature is in the 90s, it’s pretty hard to motivate yourself to go anywhere other than a pool (which could also be closed). But, scheduling a little activity can be a great way to add a little substance to your day. Even if it’s just a walk around the block, getting outside can help you feel productive and active.

Try to get at least one thing done — even if it’s just cleaning your room

You don’t need an assignment to get some work done. What you need is a plan and some motivation. Maybe you’ve recently started a book and you keep setting it down after a couple minutes. Today, give yourself a two hour chunk of time to actually sit down and read. Say you’ve been avoiding organizing your overflowing desk drawers. Well, here’s the day you tackle that monster pile of papers and pens! Even if your household tasks aren’t that numerous, try scheduling at least one thing to do each day.

Plan a project 

If you have no internship or school work, your inner student might be itching for a big project to tackle. Maybe this is the time to finally work on your songwriting skills or teach yourself a new style of dance. You could check out Instagram for inspiration on painting your walls or redecorating your bathroom. Giving yourself a long-term project that you can work on a little bit every day is a great way to feel like you did something this summer, and it gives you something to say when your grandparents ask what you’ve been doing this summer.

Limit time on social media 

Instead of getting sucked into TikTok for five hours, give yourself a social media schedule that works for you. That could mean checking your feed in the morning and then not checking again until bedtime, or it could mean only going on for five minutes at a time and then putting your phone down. The important part is making an effort to not get sucked into staring at your phone all day.

There you have it! Your guide to working when you have no work to do. Even if you don’t follow these steps exactly, the key is to put a little thought into your day instead of just letting whatever happens happen. Instead of treating this summer like a lost cause, make it your most productive summer yet!

Contact Elysa Dombro at [email protected].