How To Avoid Distracted Working

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The internet is a wormhole.

One minute you’re working on Calculus, and next you’re on your fifth video of “Dogs Stealing Food From Babies!” How did that happen?

A recent UC Irvine study shows that every time you take a break to check social media, it takes an average of 25 minutes to circle back to task. So if you check your phone 8 times, you’ve lost over 3 hours. Yikes.

But fear not: You can tackle procrastination if you can identify its root.

Here are three reasons we procrastinate, and how to beat them:

  1. EXHAUSTION: You may be working too hard. Establish a visual touchstone in your daily life. For instance, every time you see a window, ask yourself, “How am I doing? Do I need some water? Or maybe a brisk walk around the block?
  2. NO INTEREST: It’s difficult to commit to something you don’t care about. Make it easier to get that dreaded work done by briefly switching to a preferred format (ex: video vs. textbook explanation) or by delegating the task to other people (ex: barter with a sibling to do your chores.)

  3. FEAR: This is the big “what if” game that causes us to freeze in fear. Ever thought, “What if I do all this work, and I still fail?” Consider another question: “Does this task actually put me in immediate danger, or is it just math homework?” Sometimes a brief reality check is all you need.

You can also allay your fear by setting a 1-minute timer to “warm up” into the material. Once you minimize the pressure from thinking about the entire project, you'll likely find yourself making progress.

Good luck!

PS: Do you have a tip on how to manage procrastination? Share in the comment below.