You sit down to finally get some worked done and then…bzz bzz, your phone vibrates. You know you shouldn’t check it, but you do anyway. Next thing you know, you’ve traveled deep into your favorite social media app.
Does this sound like a familiar pattern? I know it certainly does for me. Procrastinating at the hands of technology has become all too common. This type of behavior can be frustrating, especially when you know work should be done, but the draw of distraction is too strong.
We now live in an age where we are both blessed and tormented with technology. Everywhere you look there is an option to use this technology to your advantage or become distracted by it. With the growing number of notifications and stimulus at our fingertips, how do we avoid the inevitable procrastination that follows?
Well, before we can hope to change something, it is best to gain a deeper understanding of the cause. So first, let’s take a look at the main drivers of procrastination.
Main Drivers of Procrastination
Technology has presented us with numerous ways to procrastinate. There are countless different mediums and devices we can cling to whenever a distraction is needed. However, I would not go as far as to say technology is the driver of procrastination.
We use technology as a means in which to procrastinate, but the drive is typically something deeper within us. Technology has exacerbated the problem but is not in itself the problem.
To really shed light on why we procrastinate, there are some key psychological characteristics and thought patterns that can be pointed to.
- Fear of Failure: The fear of failure occurs when you have a deep seeded fear of messing up. This intense feeling results in procrastination because you feel that avoiding the situation means you cannot experience the pain of failing.
- Perfectionism: Having to always do things perfectly is a key characteristic of perfectionism. When you experience this level of personal pressure, it’s common to experience extremely negative emotions when judging yourself. For that reason, procrastination becomes a safe alternative.
- Low Self-Discipline: It is not what anyone wants to hear, but one possible reason for your procrastination is due to low self-discipline. In the digital age we live in, distractions are constant. So, any lack of self-discipline can easily be exploited.
- No Joy in What You are Doing: When you lack joy and passion in what you are doing, it can be so easy to procrastinate with a more enjoyable activity. There is difficulty in always doing tasks we enjoy, and when we get caught up in something that is dull, what better way to escape than procrastinate with something more pleasurable?
How to Curb Procrastination
Now that you are aware of the underlying drivers of procrastination, it is time to take a look at some key steps you can take to curb procrastinating behavior. We didn’t even get into all the negative impacts procrastination can have on your life, but I think they are well known.
Having to deal with a constant state of procrastination is frustrating and disheartening. There is nothing better than feeling accomplished and productive in your work, whatever that may entail.
So, here are four steps you can take to finally stop procrastinating, even with all the technological distractions that are present.
Step 1: Locate When
Okay, this may seem like a no brainer, but the first step is going to be for you to identify when you procrastinate. Before you go and skip this step, take a second to think deeply about what I mean.
Do not just say, oh I procrastinate when I am doing blank. Yes, the task or activity itself must be known. But try to get specific about what point at which you procrastinate. Is it the beginning? Or is it in the middle, once you’ve worked for a little while?
Having this level of self-awareness is important moving forward with the steps.
Step 2: Determine What You Do
In this step, you want to think about what activities you do when procrastinating. Do you look at your phone? Do you surf the web? Maybe you enjoy exercising or walking around?
Whatever you identify as your typical distractor is going to be valuable knowledge to gain. Because you know what, maybe it is an activity you enjoy, that you are not giving yourself the time to do otherwise.
So, instead of using it as a way to procrastinate, you could set aside some time during the day to devote to that certain activity. That way, you stop using it as a procrastination tool since you are getting your fix of it at another time.
Step 3: Discover Why
This step falls in line with what I just talked about in the previous step. You want to find out why you are procrastinating. Included in this step is the underlying cause as to why you are avoiding the work in the first place, and why are you choosing the activity to use as a procrastination tool.
In identifying the why when it comes to your procrastination behavior, think back to the four main drivers of procrastination listed above. Do any of those resonate with you? If so, it is probably a cause of your need to procrastinate.
Also, understanding why you choose to do one activity when you know you should be doing another will help to curb that behavior. Perhaps, as stated in step two, you feel the need to do the activity and that is the only time available?
Or could it simply be an instance of convenience? Your phone is right next to you, so that becomes your go to tool for procrastinating. If so, by removing the distractions, you could greatly decrease your chances of procrastinating.
Step 4: Time Work/Set Completion Points
In this final step, you want to focus on making your work more efficient. To do so, there are two strategies you can take, depending on which works best for you. First, you can time your work.
Let’s say you procrastinate while trying to write a paper for school. You could set a timer for thirty minutes, at which point you take a break, or be done for the whole day. By doing so, you have provided your mind with set amount of time you must focus on your work.
The second strategy is to set completion points. This is the one I choose, because it personally works best for me. Similarly to timing your work, you will set a certain point at which you will either take a break or stop for the day.
But, instead of it being a certain amount of time, you identify completion points at which you will be finished. Knowing that you only have to do a specific amount of work really helps to focus and not become so easily distracted.
Through the implementation of these four steps, you can be on your way to finally curbing procrastinating behavior. In the digital age, it is even more important to become aware of the impact procrastination can have on your life and understand how you can handle this unrewarding behavior.