When I feel stressed or dread working on something, my brain has a default solution: scroll my Facebook timeline. I think I'm going to spend 30 seconds checking updates, but sometimes 30 minutes will pass before I realize I've been sucked into the internet vortex.
YouTube is equally dangerous. I click on one video about motivational speaking, and an hour later I find myself in the middle of a TED Talk on the placebo effect in advertising.
Blogs are insidious too. One great article about personal development can take me down a rabbit hole that ends with me relocating my entire investment portfolio to Vanguard.
Sometimes I'm not aware of what's happening until I realize how much time has passed, but often I'll tell myself, "2 more minutes," or "at a quarter till 4 I'll stop." I usually blow through that promise with a renegotiation of "just 5 more minutes."
In a previous post about procrastination, I mentioned a tip that a lot of people told me was helpful, so I wanted to hammer it home today:
Changing your physical state will interrupt your procrastination pattern. It will help you re-focus and feel re-energized.
You can also use this strategy when you're feeling depressed. It can be easy to sit in the same place and let the negative loops in our brain spiral out of control. But if you force yourself to stand up, you break the loop by changing your physiology.
Now, this is not a long-term solution to depression or a guaranteed solution to never procrastinate again. But if we can make it a habit to stand up every time we start to feel ourselves entering the internet vortex or a negative self-talk cycle, we will be able to break some of the destructive behaviors that distract us from doing our best work and being our best selves.
Research has shown that your physical state affects your mental state, or as Tony Robbins says, "Motion drives emotion." It can be alluring to think that we should be able to control our minds by willpower alone, but we're just setting ourselves up for disappointment when we can't overcome inertia in every area of our lives.
Rather than beating yourself up for getting sucked into Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube, recognize that you have more weapons than just your brain. Enlist your body in the fight, and see how much easier it becomes!
Do you have any other procrastination-fighting tips that work for you? I'd love to hear about them in the comments section.