Procrastination Stoppers: Put the Devices Down

Procrastination Stoppers: Put the Devices Down

21 Ways of Getting Things Done

In this series we’ll take a look at the reasons people procrastinate and tips on overcoming the habit.

Strategy 4: Put the Devices Down!

Checking you email every 20 minutes? Texting friends? Checking Facebook and Instagram on your iPad throughout the day? Playing “just one game” of Candy Crush or Words with friends that turns into a three-hour game marathon?

If you’re compulsive message-checker, texter, or Zynga addict, don’t even leave your mobile or tablet in the same room. Unless you’re waiting for news of monumental importance (a grandchild about to be born any minute or a status update on a critically ill relative), there’s no need to keep glancing at your cell phone for notifications. Believe it or not, the world won’t end if you take a break from social media.

Set boundaries and stick with them. If a co-worker is in the habit of Instant Messaging you online to ask non-urgent questions, turn off the IM function until you finish your assignment. If you need to leave it on for your supervisor to reach you, set it to “busy” and let your co-worker know you’ll get back to her when you’re finished.

If you’re at home and keep getting phone calls from chatty friends, set your phone to auto-respond with a message that says you’ll be taking calls after a designated time. Maybe you’re a “people pleaser” and you feel guilty for not answering the phone every time it rings, after all, you don’t want anyone to feel bad. It’s commendable to have a desire to help others and see if there’s anything they need, but if you’re always setting aside your own needs and goals to meet someone else’s needs, you’re doing yourself and them a great disservice. Obviously, we are not talking about individuals who truly need attention, like small children or adults who are unable to care for themselves. We’re addressing friends, family, telemarketers, and others whose unannounced and unplanned-for calls and visits keep you from being productive and accomplishing your goals for that day.

Setting boundaries at home and on the job is a form of self-respect and self-care, and you’ll be training people who don’t respect your work hours that you really do expect them to be considerate of your time.

So, put your devices aside—in a different room if necessary—and finish all those projects you started!


Strategy 3: Tame Time-Stealing Tasks <          > Strategy 5: Do Some Detective Work


  1. Common sense but we are all so addicted to our devices. I find it really hard to put them down because I work my own business from home around my kids and I still have one home all day. So I’m constantly sneaking in an email and business page check. I need to be better about blocking time to do that and ignoring my phone. I do turn the volume off though! Thank you.

    1. Author

      I think the problem for many of us is finding balance. An occasional email or social media check is certainly fine, but for those of us who are “time blind,” 3 minutes can easily turn into three hours! Thanks for your comment.

  2. Yes, that’s a good point. I always have a friend who calls and asks “Is this a good time?” and it isn’t but I always say, yes. So, I’ve been trying hard to turn my phone off so I can get the things i need to, done.

    1. Author

      Can I challenge you to try something? The next time your friend calls, say with an apologetic tone in your voice, “Gosh, it actually isn’t. Can I call you back around X:00 o’clock?” (fill in a time). And if she says, “Amy, is everything okay?” Then reassure her, “Yes, everything’s fine; I’m just in the middle of something right now, but I should be finished shortly! I’ll call you later!”

      Remember, you don’t have to put her off every time she calls; but try it occasionally and you’ll see that it gets easier to do. Eventually, you can tell friends who are in the habit of calling at all hours something like this: “I’ve got a procrastination habit I’m trying to break, so next week I’m going to try something new. Between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM I’m going to focus really hard on getting everything done around the house (or whatever), so I’m going to turn my phone off during that time. I just wanted you know in advance in case you try to get of me.” That way they know that you’re not ignoring them and hopefully they’ll be very supportive of you!

  3. I check my mail 5 times a day. When I wake up (this includes reading two news digests I receive daily), when I get to work, around midday, about 4 to see if my staff have any pressing issues for tomorrow, and in the evening (around 10).
    I also have my devices programmed to NOT receive texts- both because they waste time and to ensure I am not tempted to examine them when driving.
    Roy A Ackerman, PhD, EA recently posted…Not a tent, but…My Profile

    1. Author

      That’s awesome! Looks like you you manage your time very well. I like the schedule you’ve set for yourself to check emails. Thanks for commenting!

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