Procrastination Meter

There’s being productive and doing work, and there’s straight-up messing around. But then there’s that confusing grey area of thinking-about-doing-work-ish-but-not-really-cause-you-keep-checking-Facebook-but-you-really-don’t-want-to-commit-to-full-on-messing-around. Yeah. That limbo.

Let’s face it: as much as we commit to being good students, we don’t spend as much time actually doing work as we should (in the productive spectrum). Some of this time of not-working-dom is spent in the spectrum of concretely messing around. But we find that a majority of this time, we wish we could be working, because we know we should be. So we do as much as possible without actually doing work to try to avoid the guilt that we think would most likely accompany the straight-up-messing-around sphere of activities. We open books and tabs, organize our notes, open some more tabs and maybe a word document or two, and alternate between various social media outlets as a tiny little cheat, because that’s not as bad as committing to watching a movie, right? RIGHT?! Sadly enough, in our trying-so-hard-to-avoid-procrastination brains, it is.


The downside of this limbo we get depressingly caught in is that we would probably be more productive and feel more satisfied in the long run if we avoided this state altogether and stuck to the poles of straight productivity and straight…not-productivity, rather than get caught in this cycle of avoidance and denial. It’s like eating brussel sprouts (in this analogy, they’re an undesirable food): no matter how much you load them with salt and butter and cheese, they’re still under there, waiting to be eaten. You’d be better off eating a healthy balanced meal and then a slice of chocolate cake. Eating the meal beforehand makes the cake more worth it, anyway! Win-win.

So how do we break this guilty cycle and get on the way towards a healthy guilt-free balance of productivity and reward?

1) Turn off the internet. “But…but…I have a research project that requires the internet! That’s just not possible!” Here’s some good news for your self control (sorry PC users): SelfControl (no beating around the bush here), an app where you can blacklist certain tempting websites (like Facebook, Tumblr, etc.) for a predetermined block of time while having full access to the rest of the internet. No more “but I need the internet” excuses! If your weakness for certain sites is killing your productivity, then this is the way to go.

2) Set time limits. Pretty self-explanatory, but they work like a charm. Make sure to make time for fun! Say you work for two hours distraction-free, then allow yourself one hour of free time, be it TV-watching or outside-ing or the like. You’re more likely to be adamant on working hard since you have a guaranteed reward. And you’re more likely to actually enjoy the reward guilt-free! See, win-win.

3) Watch your grades and happiness soar. You are now the productivity master.

Image sources: (1) Emilie Ogez and (2) Ludie Cochrane, via Creative Commons.


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