Let’s be real: procrastination is inevitable. I was hoping that coming home and not having to worry about grades would decrease my procrastination habits, but boy was I wrong. If anything, I actively search for ways to avoid doing work more now since I have time to spare. It appears the temptation to put things off until the last minute is still just too hard to resist.

In the past, my procrastination always involved my phone. Since Zoom classes started, though, I’ve been getting headaches regularly from staring at my computer for so long every day. Nevertheless, I wasn’t about to let a mere headache impede my procrastination: instead of going on my phone, I’ve been turning to distraction methods that don’t require me to stare at screens.

So here are five technology free activities that I’ve been having fun procrastinating with recently! The best part: these are all perfect for a break of any length of time.

Photo by Jordan Hickey / North by Northwestern

Newspaper Games

Crosswords, sudoku, jumbles … really any kind of puzzle game works for this one. I usually do these in an actual newspaper because my dad is one of the few remaining people who has a daily newspaper subscription, but the free options online are truly endless. For example, USA Today has a whole collection of free games. For anyone with a New York Times online subscription, they also offer a discounted price to get access to their daily crosswords and other games. To avoid a screen, simply print out whatever game you want to do and fill it out by hand!

Jigsaw Puzzles

From what I’ve seen, jigsaw puzzles can be hard to come by right now, and those available are often pretty pricey. That being said, I know I’ve found a few lying around my house and have even considered taking apart those I’ve already done to put them back together. Puzzles are my absolute favorite way to take my mind off things: I’ve found that a puzzle around 1000 to 1500 pieces is the perfect balance between a challenge that requires mental focus and a relaxing pastime that calms my thoughts.

Photo/doodle by Tori Hickey

Mindless Doodling

Get out a blank page and just let your hand free! I have no artistic talent so this hasn’t been my personal procrastination method of choice, but my sister, who drew the doodle above, testifies that it can be really therapeutic.


Journaling can be anything from dumping all your thoughts onto a page to getting really crafty and making an aesthetic spread (see my friend Liv’s stunning collage above 😍). Whether you decide to use your journal as a means of personal reflection or artistic expression, it’s a great way to clear your head and take a few minutes for yourself.

Journaling is something I’ve always wanted to get into but never had the patience for – being stuck at home, though, has given me just enough time and motivation to finally commit to doing it. I even documented my journey trying to learn calligraphy for a week as part of the Life & Style Quarantine Diaries!

Listen to an Audiobook

Individual audiobooks can be expensive, but (as usual) libraries save the day. If you have a library card, you can download an app called Libby to access a wide selection of audiobooks for free. If you don’t have a library card, no worries! Many libraries (including Evanston’s!) are still processing applications for electronic library cards that grant you access to all their digital resources, Libby included. The best thing about audiobooks is how portable they are: you can listen to one on a walk, while lying in your bed, while driving – literally anywhere and while doing anything.

So – don’t want to do any of the things you probably should be doing but also can’t stand the thought of spending another second in front of a screen? Yeah, me too. Next time that happens (it’s right now, isn’t it?), consider one of these activities that don’t involve technology!