Saturday, June 15, 2024

Stop Procrastination By Eliminating Distractions


Today’s technology makes learning how to stop procrastinating more of a challenge.  Our cell phone rings, our text message alerts, our IM at work, our email alerts are all things that make it hard for anyone to stay focused on the project at hand.  According to a study conducted by Gloria Mark at the University of California, Irvine, the typical office worker is interrupted every eleven minutes.  Unfortunately, the study also found that it took the person an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption.

You have to remember that even if your phone or computer rings or alerts you, you are still the one making the choice to take your attention away from your project.  Most things are not so urgent that they can’t wait 15 minutes or even an hour.  Find electronic alert solutions that best fit your needs.  Remove applications that over alert, silence your phone, close your email, close browsers, put your IM on “busy” or “away”.

If you’ve ever decided to quickly check your Facebook page when you are supposed to be working, you know how easy it is to end up wasting 45 minutes or more. How do you resist such temptation when it is available in only two clicks of a mouse? The easiest way to do this is to make a pre-commitment before you actually face the temptation.

This is the strategy Herman Melville used in his writing career.  Although he is famous for writing Moby Dick and other classics, he often lost the struggle with tempting distractions that lured him away from his writing table.  Finally, found a radical solution that greatly reduced his procrastination.  Melville had his wife chain him to his writing table. Since he couldn’t leave the room, he had to focus on his writing.

Victor Hugo, who wrote Les Miserables, also struggled with procrastination.  While writing, he often gave into the temptation to leave his house and go visit friends.  He overcame the habit by giving unusual instructions to his valet. He told his valet to take all of his clothes from the house. Hugo would be forced to write in his bedclothes until the valet returned with his garments at the agreed upon hour.

Fortunately, you do not have to go to such extreme measures to avoid distractions. There are online tools that will “lock” you out of the internet for a set block of time.

An example of this is “Procrastination Punisher” that is available for free through Google Play.  This App enables you to designate the hours when websites and Apps will be unavailable to you.  The only way you can unlock it during those hours is to make a donation to a charity.

I use an App called ‘Unstuck’ for the iPad and it has helped me greatly. Other popular Apps include “StayFocused” which is free from Google. Of course, your productivity is worth making a small investment.  For $15 you could purchase the App “Anti-Social” which blocks web surfing.  Another recommended App is “Freedom” which goes for $10. Search iTunes and Android to find one you like and start using it.  Before you know it, your productivity will increase and you will start achieving goals and projects that have been on the back burner for weeks.

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