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ISSUE 118 VOL 20 PUBLISHED 5/13/2005

Killing Time (and brain cells)

By Rebecca Lofft
Staff Writer

Friday, May 13, 2005

As the semester winds down, each student begins to contemplate the great art of procrastination. We all think about how to waste time. It’s not that we don’t love writing 15-30 page papers about the politics of East Asia or providing in-depth analyses of the marriage groups in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. It’s just that Spring finally came out of the closet after four months of darkness, and by gum, we need to celebrate in a way that doesn’t involve studying.

But how do we define “wasting time”? Is it really a waste of time to enjoy each other’s company outside in the fresh air and sunlight? Although playing outside takes time away from homework, procrastination can be a beneficial activity in many respects. As students, we seem to consider “wasting time” as using time in a way that could be spent more wisely, efficiently, enjoyably or profitably, particularly in regard to our academic studies.

Although not the most popular of procrastination methods, writing journalism articles regarding wasting time is a surefire way to divert your focus from academic studies. In order to write this article, I performed a great deal of research to obtain information about the most popular methods of wasting time.

More difficult and time-consuming than predicted, this research involved many hours of talking to friends about their time-wasting habits, poring over Cosmopolitan magazines, reading online articles and blogs and watching “Sex and the City” for inspiration.

A remarkably trendy device nowadays, the computer is a troublesome acquaintance. At times, the computer is a friendly research associate, but most often, the steely machine of microprocessors and motherboards deviously encourages us to tap into our deepest time-wasting potential. But how can an impersonal object do this to us?

It begins with e-mail. “I check my email 30 times a day,” says Kirsten Peterson ’08, readily admitting that, “I’m really good at doing nothing on my computer.” Once online, a person can easily browse popular websites in addition to obsessively checking e-mail. The current campus Internet hotspot seems to be the infamous Facebook.

I would not be surprised if you readers already know much more than I do about Facebook. Call me Puritan, but I am one of the stern few who remain abstinent from Facebook, simply because I relish my relatively pure, Facebook-free lifestyle. Yet, Facebook is a valid and renowned time-waster (see previous definition) for many St. Olaf students, and I felt compelled to include the notorious website.

Jenna Ingersoll ’08 claims that poking all her friends on Facebook is a particularly good waste of time, while Martha Schewehn ’08 frets “I just joined two days ago and it’s driving me crazy!” Have no fear, Facebook fretters and addicts! According to Ingersoll, the infatuation with Facebook eventually wears off, at some point.

When your infatuation with Facebook ends, perhaps you should consider entering into a love affair with some deserving blog website, such as, or, for the more acidic folks in life. These websites allow you to write either public or private journal-type entries that are recorded and posted online.

Blogs can be a superb creative outlet for writers or, for other types of people, an escape from the tangible world to an online reality. If you have an obscure interest, chances are you can find someone else with that same interest on the information superhighway. And do I even need to mention the hours of diversion available from searching random words on

For those who are keener on corporeal ways of wasting time, Amanda Robinson ’05 suggests crossword puzzles.

Rachel Van Scoy ’05 had some other recommendations. Her favorite wastes of time include “memorizing movie quotes, watching Eddie Izzard for the 25th time, and reading the same paragraph over and over and over.”

Adam Anderson ‘05 commonly wastes time by “watching movies, or sleeping, or sleeping through a movie and pointing and laughing at people who fall asleep in public places.”

Laura Conger ‘05, a music major, declares that “listening to popular music” is a great waste of time. Conger and Van Scoy also note the popularity of online quizzes on websites such as, a humorous free test and dating website.

John Lindsley ’06 claims his techniques as a serious procrastinator involve “getting massages.” Curiously enough, Jared Wall ’06 informed me that his current homework-postponement habit is “giving John Lindsley a foot massage.”

Aurora Adamson ’08 procrastinates by pursuing the underappreciated art of sewing: “I hand-sew things that really should be machine-sewn.”

Lauren Cassat ‘07, future president of the St. Olaf Swing Club, continues the stream of uncommon suggestions for wasting time by declaring her love of “having a swing bomb.” Caveat lector: this surreptitious and spontaneous event may strike the outdoor Crossroads in the near future.

But, dear reader, should this list not suffice, allow me to provide my own humble and expert opinion of the top ten ways to waste time during finals week:

10. Clean your room. You’ve been meaning to do it all year, and now that your 25 page paper is due tomorrow, what better time?

9. Take up a new hobby. The more time-intensive, the better.

8. Join a new club and pretend you’ve been a member since the beginning of the year.

7. Explore Northfield on a sunny day (this may be your last chance if you’re a senior!).

6. Spend hours making individualized playlists and burning sappy end-of-the year goodbye CDs for all your friends.

5. Discuss the meaning of life with friends. Read that chapter on existentialism you were assigned last semester; become persuaded that life is meaningless, thereby giving you good reason to drink away your troubles at one of Northfield’s fine establishments.

4. Become twitterpated with one of St. Olaf’s many model-types. Spend every waking hour with them and part tearfully at graduation, promising to email every day over the summer. Promise later negated by meeting your soulmate while on tour in Norway.

3. Put on your spring dresses and pastel shirts and frolic outside while playing croquet.

2. Go through the phone book and highlight all the names of people with whom you want to keep in touch, but probably never will.

1. Catch the sell-out sale at the Pause and eat more ice cream in one sitting than is humanly possible.

But amidst all the choices, from the Internet to movie-watching, my favorite way to waste time is to talk late into the night, philosophizing and waxing poetic into the wee hours with friends about life, love and the pursuit of happiness—followed closely by writing journalism articles, of course.

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