As finals begin, you’re probably (if you’re like me, at any rate) wishing you’d been a bit more productive during reading week. When you are taking those necessary breaks, though, why not procrastinate with something intellectual?
At the very least, you’ll sound smart at holiday parties, and you might even learn something academically useful. (I’ve cited TED Talks in papers before.) Also, all of these procrastination destinations happen to be audio- or video-based, meaning that you can listen to them while you do other things, like eat, clean or tear your hair out in frustration.
TED Talks: There are TED Talks on almost everything, and they’re a good length for a study break. Here are some particularly relevant ones in the midst of finals stress.
The Power of Vulnerability: Brené Brown on how being vulnerable makes us more successful and happier
How to Make Stress Your Friend: Kelly McGonigal on the science of stress and how to harness stress in a productive way
On Being Wrong: Kathryn Schultz on the good that can come of mistakes
NPR is a great source of interesting audio entertainment. Here are some random NPR programs and stories to distract you.
StoryCorps: short, sweet and often sappy conversations between loved ones, these are good for quick feel-good breaks.
Terry Gross’ Last Interview with Maurice Sendak
TED Radio Hour takes excerpts of related TED Talks and intersperses them with commentary and conversations to “bring these ideas to life.”
One of my favorites is this recent one on belief, doubt, and religion.
99% Invisible is a “tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.” Sounds awesome. It’s also the employer of WesAlum Avery Trufelman ’13, so take heart: there is hope after graduation.
The Story Collider is a podcast about science affecting people on a personal and emotional level. Most stories are about 15 minutes long.
The Internet Archive has an insane amount of free content to access online or download and is worth poking around when you have time.
I personally love procrastinating by watching or listening to philosopher Alan Watts, whose lectures are both fascinating and an interesting insight into what public broadcasting was like in the late 50s and early 60s.
The Dork Forest is a podcast where people who are really into things talk about those things with host Jackie Kashian for an hour. It’s a little long for a standard study break, but interesting and often very funny.
The Innovation of Loneliness is an interesting take on how modern technology has affected human interaction. After watching it, you can share it on Facebook ironically and then attempt to list all of your meaningful relationships.
VisuWords: okay, I lied, this one isn’t video/audio but it’s still really cool. Basically, it’s a graphical dictionary that lets you play with word associations.