It’s not easy avoiding procrastination in a world where technology increasingly demands our attention.
Did you know that proximity to something or someone that can distract you is one of the main reasons for putting something off?
When I was young myself, it wasn’t nearly as easy. It wasn’t until I was studying economics at university that computers were introduced. Back then, you even had to reserve a time slot before you could use the computer.
Now, most people have much more powerful technology at their disposal in the form of a telephone. This phone or Ipad or laptop or games computer is staring us in the face all the time. And they scream for our attention. The power of these distractions is strong. Incredibly strong. Avoiding procrastination seems hardly possible.
No wonder that chronic procrastination has skyrocketed since the 1970s.[lwptoc numeration=”none”]
Email, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok, or just surfing the web all offer the opportunity to do something other than what you’re supposed to be doing. After all, it’s only for a little while. Right? But you’re fooling yourself. You’re spending precious time that you can’t get back. Subsequently, it doesn’t matter how many time management programs you look at. The time we have to spend is limited!
Fortunately, you are not powerless. There are things you can do to avoid procrastination. I’ll list four things you can do to reduce the likelihood that technology will interfere with your ability to get things done.
- Eliminate the causes
- Schedule distractions
- Use sanctions
- Avoid procrastinating by setting intentions
1. Avoid procrastination by removing the causes
This is about being proactive and removing the distractions – so, in other words, “removing the causes.
This could be closing the door, turning off the phone, shutting down social networking sites, and removing clutter.
If email is something that keeps distracting you, turn off your alerts. This alone will save you a lot of time and annoyance each year.
Consider using technology that is currently available to block your distractions. For example, say you have trouble with apps and internet notifications, why not use the same technology to mute or eliminate distractions?
If you know by now, through trial and error, that a visit to Facebook always takes more time than you had intended for yourself, use an app like Rescue Time. So check out how you can use Rescue Time (or a similar program) to protect your time for the things that matter.
2. Avoid procrastination by scheduling distractions
Another exciting way to reduce procrastination (due to distractions) is to free up time for those areas you procrastinate. In other words, saturate the needs before they become too much.
For example, if you schedule some time to check email or Facebook, what you are doing is blowing off a little steam before the cauldrons burst – a bit like a nicotine patch for the smoker!
Look at the things you put off and see if you can schedule some of those things. A few examples are scheduling email three times a day or checking Facebook for half an hour after work.
But there’s a danger in that; I plan to spend 10 minutes but end up spending an hour. If that sounds like you, consider the following two ideas.
3. Avoid procrastinating by setting panties
In this strategy, you link your misbehavior to a punishment.
Why this works
When we get distracted, we ruin the experience with something we don’t like or don’t want to do. The trick is to make that sanction so severe that you lose the desire to sin against your rules.
This strategy can be a good one for dealing with email or social media addiction. For example, you could commit only to check your email three times a day – then, if someone catches you responding to email on the run, you owe them a beer.
4. Procrastinating avoid setting intentions.
But for the distractions, you can’t anticipate, consider an intention plan. This is a preconceived strategy.
For example, I find it very difficult to say NO when my friends come over and ask me to go out. So my intention plan might look like this:
IF my friend comes over on the weekend and invites me to go out, THEN I will have a prepared response that this weekend is totally taken up with an assignment and that I would love to go to the movies with him on Tuesday night.
Think about the tasks you put off.
Then ask yourself:
- Can I be more proactive and remove the distraction
- Can I schedule time for my guilty pleasure,
- Can I attach a sanction to your distraction, or
- Can I clearly state my intentions