Top 10 Ways to Waste Time in College

Relaxing? Avoiding? Not Sure? Find Out How to Tell the Difference

University student with cell phone on campus
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College life is hard. As a student, you most likely balance your classes, homework, finances, a job, friends, a social life, a relationship, cocurricular involvement, and ten million other things -- all at the same time. It's no wonder, then, that you may need to just spend time, well, wasting time now and then. But how can you tell if you're wasting time in a productive or nonproductive way?

1. Social Media

  • Productive uses: Catching up with friends, socializing, connecting with family and friends, connecting with classmates, relaxing in a fun way.
  • Nonproductive uses: Gossiping, snooping out of boredom, obsessing over old friends or partners, getting information out of jealousy, trying to start drama.

2. People

  • Productive uses: Relaxing, hanging out with friends, socializing, getting to meet new people, engaging in interesting conversations, experiencing new things with good folks.
  • Nonproductive uses: Malicious gossip, looking for people to hang out with because you're avoiding a task, feeling like you have to be part of the crowd when you know you have other things to do.

3. The Internet

  • Productive uses: Doing research for homework, learning about topics that are interesting, catching up on current events, looking into academic opportunities, looking for employment opportunities, booking travel to visit home.
  • Nonproductive uses: Stumbling around just to keep boredom at bay, looking at sites you weren't interested in in the first place, reading about people and/or news that have no connection or impact on your time in school (or your homework!).

4. The Party Scene

  • Productive uses: Having fun with friends, letting yourself relax during the evening, celebrating a special event or occasion, socializing, meeting new people, building friendships and community at your school.
  • Nonproductive uses: Engaging in unhealthy behaviors that impede your ability to do things like homework and going to work on time.

5. Drama

  • Productive uses: Getting help for your friend or yourself during a time of need, connecting a friend or yourself to other support systems, building and learning empathy for others.
  • Nonproductive uses: Making or being involved with drama that is unnecessary, feeling the need to fix problems that aren't yours to fix and that can't be fixed by you anyway, getting sucked into drama simply because you were at the wrong place at the wrong time.

6. Email

  • Productive uses: Communicating with friends, catching up with family, contacting professors, exploring job or research opportunities, dealing with administrative offices (like financial aid) on campus.
  • Nonproductive uses: Checking email every 2 minutes, interrupting work every time an email comes in, emailing back and forth when a phone call might better suffice, letting emails take priority over other things you need to do at your computer.

7. Cell Phone

  • Productive uses: Communicating with friends and family, dealing with timely matters (like financial aid deadlines), calling to solve problems (like bank errors).
  • Nonproductive uses: Texting every 10 seconds with a friend while trying to do another task, using your phone as a camera/video camera all the time, checking Instagram at bad times (in class, in conversation with others), always feeling like it's the priority instead of your task at hand.

8. Movies and YouTube

  • Productive uses: Using to relax, using to get into a mood (before a Halloween party, for example), just hanging out with friends, socializing, watching for class, watching a clip or two for fun, watching videos of friends or family, watching impressive feats or performances, watching snippets on a topic for a paper or project.
  • Nonproductive uses: Getting sucked into a movie you didn't have time to watch in the first place, watching something simply because it was on TV, watching for "just a minute" that turns into 2 hours, watching videos that add nothing to your own life, using as an avoidance from the real work you need to do.

9. Video Games

  • Productive uses: Letting your brain relax, playing with friends (near or far), socializing, learning about new games while meeting new people.
  • Nonproductive uses: Losing sleep because you're playing too late at night, playing for too long when you have homework and other work to do, using video games as a way of avoiding the realities of your college life, not meeting new people because you're alone in your room playing video games too much.

10. Not Getting Enough Sleep

  • Productive uses (are there really any?): Finishing a paper or project that took longer than expected, engaging with other students about something so exciting it's worth missing a little sleep over, meeting a scholarship deadline, doing an activity instead of sleeping that truly enriches your college life.
  • Nonproductive uses: Staying up too late on a regular basis, missing so much sleep that you aren't functional during the time you are awake, having your academic work suffer, having your physical, mental, and emotional health suffer from lack of sleep.
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Your Citation
Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "Top 10 Ways to Waste Time in College." ThoughtCo, Feb. 16, 2021, Lucier, Kelci Lynn. (2021, February 16). Top 10 Ways to Waste Time in College. Retrieved from Lucier, Kelci Lynn. "Top 10 Ways to Waste Time in College." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 27, 2023).