Still trying to stop procrastinating?
There are probably numerous days that you site behind the computer to do some research or get some work done and doing a short break to read some news or check social updates and as you done this you aren’t aware that time passes as you jump from one link to another while the time is passing by rapidly. You have probably tried many things, like avoiding to use those sites, setting time aside for short breaks or some other solution but every time you spend more time doing nothing than to spend that time into something productive.
My way of curbing procrastination time to minimum
You probably procrastinate as everyone but you don’t do it so efficiently, there are many ways to curb this behavior especially with avoiding reading the news updates all the time. We live in an era of information overload and we developed a habit of a need to be constantly updated with latest updates.
I am using few tools which are completely free of cost for basic usage you will need to prevent procrastination. Here is how I do it:
I have installed self control app on my computer and you can get it at this link. It is free of cost. Basically what it does is that you add a list of web sites that you want to block for a selected period of time.
You are probably wondering now which pages should I add to this blacklist. Well the obvious sites should be the social networks. Most of the links we click to other sites are coming from there to funny videos or interesting stories. There are ton of these sites, but major one should be Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc. Though have in mind if you develop for social network logins you have to keep alert to remove them for that period otherwise you can do no related work to it for that day. Other useful list of sites that need to be blacklisted are on your history list in your favorite browser. Go through the history and check all the sites that shouldn’t be there during your work hours and add them to the list.
Next step is to add time inside self control for how long it should be blocked. First advice never do mistake and set it over 24 hours. Perfect time to set the limits is 10-12 hours. You would probably say I don’t work so many hours and I agree you mustn’t but from the time you set the time and all other chores you need to do during the day believe me that is the most optimal time especially if you are working for yourself or being in a startup environment. It is dynamic over the day so keep on tracking your time that way.
So next step is to activate the self control and you magically stop procrastinating. Wrong. Keep on reading.
This step is just a prevention measure before building a habit of being productive and stop procrastinating once for all. 🙂
Obviously you still need a way to get some fix on news updates and you can satisfy this craving by reading it on mobile or tablet. Taking breaks from work and reading it on different screen than you do your work helps a lot to give you a feeling that you are wasting time and don’t finish work especially if you are in an office full of people their looks give you silent reminder to get going.
So to get rid of the procrastination and urge for news I use a service called Feedly, all the sites I used to read I save them now into Feedly. It is a convenient rss reader than manages and updates all the news for you and have a great native mobile app to share and save content for later. Best thing I like is the information of average number of posts per day. There are two kind of sites that you should add to Feedly and love it reading:
- Sites you should add are those which are relevant you and they have a low average number of posts per day, since feedly gives you ability to organize them into categories. So use sites from this kind in different category than from the second one. The reason follows in the next point.
- Sites that are somehow relevant to you and general sites that you follow on daily basis and have a high average post rate. Why should you separate those two categories is fairly simple. Thinking that you will be able to consume every information that comes in and have focus to go over it every day I can assure you it is impossible. So what to do with categories that stockpile a backlog of posts which you never will be able read. It is simple do fresh start for that category. Don’t worry you didn’t miss much anyways 😉 This is the reason why relevant should be separated from this one so you can still follow important low post frequency than this high frequency sites.
How do I usually read this updates on my phone? Well I do this while commuting or taking a short break while there is nobody near to have a chat. Basically anywhere you are waiting for something to happen but you cannot affect personally. There is one more app that comes to help. During the day I usually skim just the title and first paragraph. In the past I would do the following think how interesting is this article and how I will use it in the future I would just make a bookmark inside the browser but I would never read it. I did get rid of that clutter a while ago. I had more than 7000 bookmark links.
For that part I use Pocket service which enables you to save your favorite links, photos and other media for later reading. I dislike any service integrated directly in the browser and prefer having separate application for that use. I like Pocket because it saves all the articles for offline reading so you can basically read it in offline mode or while traveling by air. As I said before I usually skim the articles and if I think that some is worth reading for future I save it into Pocket, Feedly app works well so with a single button I can save it into Pocket. This way I read full article when I am fully focused or have time to read it through.
Pocket gives you ability to archive the articles which you think they would be useful in the future and also relevant to your future work.
How much information is too much to stop procrastinating?
Well if on average through the day inside Feedly app you see total unread more than 200 posts per day you are already doing it wrong. Try to limit the number of sites or use a specific rss for the same site, each section of the site usually has more specific feed to try to narrow it down and avoid general feed from high frequency sites. If you manage to keep it under 200 posts per day, fast skimming through that will not take you more than 15 minutes per day. So not just you will stop procrastinating but also free your time for other things you can enjoy in your free time.
What about social sites?
This is another thing. I would advise you to install native applications that give you notifications and best and most streamlined experience on the mobile phone, but before you are doing it I advise you to unfollow any high frequency brand or a person that is all over your timeline. This can easily happen on Twitter where you get fairly lost and hard to follow any updates. Same for the Facebook. You can still be a friend with someone but use the unfollow button on their profile and you won’t get their posts on timeline, same apply for specific sites that virally spam your timeline.
Another part of social sites and communication are probably messenger (IM) applications that you probably loose too much time than you planned and as you finish with one chat another one comes up. I use simple thing, you should set a timer alert to specific time, for example 15 minutes. If you are chatting with someone while you shuld finish something and do it more than a quarter of hour then you are wasting time. Everything can wait for few hours especially random chat messages. By setting the timer alert the strong alert noise will make a hard wake up call and a distraction to fall out of the conversation.
Final most important thing you need to do
While working you should turn off audio notifications from all sources to minimize distractions that includes vibration too. If you have your phone on the table instead in your pocket make sure the screen is facing downwards and this way preventing any visual distraction from your work.
If you manage to set up this habit on a daily level and continue doing it for at least 2-3 weeks you will notice that slowly you are evolving and your need to turn on self control every day is redundant since you’ve created a new habit that makes you stop procrastinating and more productive. I hope you will get over procrastination phase as it helped me to become a more productive person and have a more quality time off besides my work.