Internet Procrastination: Why We Do it and How to Stop

Ever set out to do a task only to later find yourself wasting endless time on websites such as Facebook or Twitter? Do you hop on the computer to write that important email, but within   a few minutes get sidetracked into mindless web surfing finding later you haven’t done what you’ve set out to do? You’re probably experiencing the phenomenon we all know well… Internet procrastination. Everyone does it at some point or another, but why? The underlying reason may be that you get overwhelmed with the amount of things you have to do and the mere thought of getting something started stresses you out. Another possibility is that you’re setting standards for yourself that things must be absolutely perfect, so you don’t even begin to attempt them until the very last minute. This then may make you stress out more ,throwing you into a procrastination snowball.

The ultimate question to ask yourself to help break your procrastination habit is “how do I feel when I procrastinate?” “Do I feel good when I procrastinate or do I feel bad?” “Does procrastinating  give me pleasure or pain?” There is no doubt that procrastination makes me feel lousy. If you ate a piece of bad chicken and it made you feel sick, would you continue to eat the bad chicken?  Of course not.  Same is true with procrastination. If you can associate enough bad feelings with procrastination,  and good feelings with productivity, you are less likely to procrastinate. Here are some strategies on how to overcome your procrastination and become more productive!

  1. Make a To-Do list with check boxes:  Procrastination can occur when you don’t attempt something because it seems stressful. Write a to-do list. This is a good strategy to help break down tasks that, in turn, can ease the stress. Put check boxes next to each activity. When you accomplish something and can check it off, it can leave you with that good feeling of accomplishment.
  2. Abstain, Abstain!: Curb your impulse to go on the Internet until the tasks on your to-do list are complete. The more you don’t give in to procrastinating, the more automatically you can program yourself for success, and the better you can feel. If a thought comes to mind like “go check your email”, go cold turkey and say NO. Not until ___ o’clock. Make your rules strict so you can get things done.
  3. Schedule in free time: Set a period of time each day that is designated to surfing the web (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). You can even reward yourself with more free time once you finish your tasks.
  4. Pleasure/Pain Question:  When you find yourself procrastinating, stop and ask: Will this help  me to feel good and accomplished, or bad and stressed out? Which feeling would I rather have? I have to get this stuff done eventually; might as well do it now instead of stress out later, right?
  5. Give yourself deadlines and let go of perfection: Write a schedule of when you will be doing each task at hand, and for how long. If you give yourself deadlines, you will be working under a clock which will make it harder for you to goof off. Again, perfection can be an instigator for procrastination, and you may diddle around because you fear things won’t be perfect. Deadlines will naturally trump perfection because if you’re working with a deadline you have to finish by a certain time and can’t be too picky. Perfection is something that that can kill productivity. A little is okay but it needs to be tamed so that it does not get in the way of your goals.