By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.
Days without homework are the best. Whether it’s just one homework-free night, a weekend with nothing due on Monday, or even a whole vacation week with no long-term assignments hanging over your head, the feeling is liberating.
While you should take some time to enjoy an afternoon or a weekend without homework, there are some major benefits to using at least a portion of that time to be productive in ways that will pay off down the line.
Below are 10 productive things to do when you don’t have homework – or when you just don’t feel like doing it “right now.” I mean, if you’re going to procrastinate (gasp!), you could at least spend that time doing something valuable – right?
1. Clean out your backpack.
Take everything out, empty all the pockets, throw away the squished stuff at the bottom, and go outside to shake your bag upside down.
2. Go through your folders and notebooks.
Remove all the papers from each of your folders and sort them: throw away junk and expired papers as well as duplicates, and move papers to their proper folder if they ended up in the wrong spot.
3. Sort your writing utensils.
Collect all the pens, pencils, highlighters and markers in your backpack or workspace. Sharpen the pencils and throw away dried-up pens and highlighters. Keep only what you like and use.
4. Clean your devices.
Use a screen cleaner or a wipe made for eyeglasses and thoroughly clean the screens of your phone, tablet, laptop and/or desktop. Lock your keyboard, tap it upside down to shake out crumbs (ew), and give that a wipe too. Don’t forget to clean your mouse.
5. Clean up Google Drive.
Go into Google Drive or wherever your store your digital files, and do some housecleaning. First, delete junky or old files. Next, do a search for the work untitled to give you a list of files that have no names: give these unnamed files names or just delete them. Lastly, move any stray files into appropriately named folders. Don’t have folders? Make some, starting with school year dates.
6. Manage your inbox.
Managing your email inbox as a student can be challenging if you don’t know what to do. Here are the exact steps for basic student email management. At the very least, go into your inbox and delete some junk / old emails and unsubscribe from promotional emails you don’t want.
7. Create or revamp your study space.
If you’re getting bored with your study space, spruce it up. Even a subtle shift like switching your lamp from the left to the right or swapping out your chair can have a motivating effect due to novelty. If you don’t have a study space, can you create one? Here are my resources for creating study spaces based on your learning style: kinesthetic learner, auditory learner, or visual learner.
8. Rewrite your notes.
I’ve talked about the benefits of rewriting notes before. It’s one of the secrets of good students, and if you don’t already do it, now is the time. Find the most recent notes you took, and rewrite them neatly, filling in missing information and organizing the material in a way that’s better to study from.
9. Get ahead.
I know it’s such a relief when you don’t have homework, so this tip might feel contradictory, but why not use this free time to get ahead on some of your reading? Read the next chapter in the novel you’re reading in English class, read the next chapter in your history book, get started on the essay that’s not due for two weeks, or start studying for the test that you know you’re going to have.
10. Do a brain dump.
Any time is a good time to do a brain dump, but especially if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately. Here are the exact steps for doing a brain dump.
Listen, this list of productive things to do is not all about go-go-go until you pop. I’m not suggesting that you spend every second of your free time being productive. That’s actually not productive at all! But the message is that sometimes when we don’t have homework or we’re just not feeling like jumping into our homework quite yet, we can use that time to plug away at the little things.