Top 10 Procrastination Traps and How to Avoid Them
Stop us if you’ve heard this one before. You feel motivated and are ready to jump into that massive pile of to-dos that you didn’t get to over the weekend. But then, you get a ding on your phone.
You check the screen to see more missed notifications from this app and that one and your Facebook, and you just have to check them right away. Then, you can get started.
This scenario is just one of the many procrastination traps that we fall into in a given day. It might not seem like it’s a big deal to put off what you have to do. But those “not a big deal” scenarios add up.
In this article, we look at the top 10 procrastination traps likely to derail our days. Beyond that, we specifically examine how to avoid them. Let’s begin!
1. Social Media
Social media is a massive trap because we fail to properly calculate the time lost whenever checking a friend’s update. It’s just one friend, right? It’ll only take a few seconds.
Wrong! Those few seconds turn into the next update and the next update from one of the hundreds of people you’re connected with. Pretty soon, you’re having to tell yourself that you’ll stop scrolling after the next couple of posts.
Then, another one catches your eye. All of this happens in what seems like mere seconds, but those seconds stretch to minutes when you find something of interest.
Add up the number of “check-in” updates that you make each day, and it’s not uncommon to blow an hour or more of productivity time “doomscrolling.” How do you avoid it? A number of ways, actually.
You can stay off social media altogether (recommended). You can participate but do so without the ease and convenience of a native app. Meaning, you access from the mobile browser only. And if you do wish to keep the app, you make sure not to enable notifications.
2. Mobile Apps and Games
Mobile apps that go beyond social media can be equally time-consuming. Mobile games, in particular, can be addictive and damaging to your core productivity hours.
If you’re caught up in one of those games that’s easy to replay and addictive in nature, or if you’re part of the vastly popular social gaming movement, there’s always time to be wasted. What do you do?
Avoid the social components so prevalent in mobile games. If you do “go there,” make sure that you’ve disallowed notifications. You don’t have to avoid gaming altogether.
In fact, it can be quite beneficial if you’re able to master it, thanks to what it does for reaction time and cognition. But you should confine gameplay to the end of your day.
Many of the games on consoles like PS5 and Xbox are designed to be played for hours before you can actually beat them. They are as immersive (or more immersive) than a 12-episode season of your favorite show.
Worse, consoles are difficult to just set aside and forget about. If you do choose to keep one in your apartment or dorm, keep it unplugged and stored away when you’re not playing it.
Too much trouble? Consider studying elsewhere, like at a coffee shop or the campus library.
4. Television and Movies
Movies aren’t that difficult to avoid. It’s easy to tell yourself you don’t have time for a 90-minute film.
Here’s where you run into trouble, though. A single episode of your favorite show is only 25-50 minutes. Squeezing in just one won’t hurt anything, right?
That’s true until you get to the cliffhanger ending that makes you realize you have to watch the next episode.
How do you avoid the trap? Never watch television during core productivity hours, for starters. Save that time for the end of the day.
5. Your Social Circle
Everyone has that one friend who just can’t take no for an answer. Your obligations or feelings just do not matter when it comes to their desire to hang out.
If you’ve got more than one of those friends, God help you. What do you do about it?
The best answer is to go “do not disturb” on your phone when you’ve got to get stuff done. Avoid the persistent friend by working in different locations where they would not expect you to be.
This will help to avoid the dreaded “pop in.” Save social time for when your projects, homework, and classes are up to date, and you don’t have to be anywhere the next morning.
Reading is a wonderful pastime. It keeps you learning, informed, entertained, and relaxed.
Even something like a good book can have its downside, though. Particularly, when you’re not supposed to be reading that suspense-thriller from your favorite author because you’ve got homework.
Try to keep leisure reading for leisure time. Don’t carry your infotainment books with you when you’re studying with a group or doing homework by yourself.
Again, even positive things can become procrastination traps when you’re partaking of them at the wrong times. Avoid their lure.
Relationships are especially hard procrastination traps to overcome. That’s because you want to be with the person you’re passionate about every moment of the day.
At least, that’s how it goes at first. Realize that even the best relationships follow a pattern where passions burn brighter from one moment to the next.
Both of you should be working toward something separate from yourselves. It is how you achieve a healthy balance.
That balance should be between your professional goals and obligations and your relationship goals and obligations. Healthy relationships facilitate that balance; they do not detract from it.
You can avoid relationship procrastination traps by respecting each other’s time and working together to set healthy boundaries. Have the talk. Your relationship will be the better for it.
8. Other Classes
You can fool yourself into thinking that you’re not procrastinating by focusing on other school work. But here’s the thing.
Just because you’re doing other class work, that doesn’t get you off the hook as a procrastinator. What it could actually mean is this.
You’re avoiding the work that you have to do by taking on work of low priority that is easy to do and can definitely wait. This is dangerous.
It’s dangerous because you create a reality where you start to believe you don’t have time to handle the tougher obligations. You essentially fool yourself into thinking that you’re doing all you can when you’re really hiding from the tougher and more urgent priorities.
9. Emails, Texts, and Phone Calls
Silence all audible notifications on your phone. Play with the focus features so that you’re notifying people when you’re not available for immediate contact.
For those of you who haven’t updated your phones in a while, consider setting your phone in a place where you won’t be able to see or hear push notifications activity while you’re working.
It is very rare that the people needing to contact you will be unable to wait that hour or two until your next break. And if they know you’re working, they will be in a better position to address issues at another time. Or, they will find it easier to think of alternatives.
Some folks, particularly of the extroverted personality type, can be their own worst procrastination traps. They do this through FOMO, or the basic fear of missing out.
As they go about handling business, they fear the world is doing something awesome without them. This results in shoddy and rushed work or the putting off of work so they can be a part of the next big thing.
Seriously, cool it. Everyone has obligations they must handle, and we can’t judge our worth based on whether we were available at a certain time to know about something first or experience a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
(Spoiler alert: there are very few, if any, once in a lifetime opportunities out there. Most things you have FOMO about can be recreated or picked up at another point in time that’s just as awesome.)
Steering Clear of These Procrastination Traps Will Keep You on the Right Path
Being aware of what the biggest procrastination traps in your life are will go a long way in avoiding them altogether. Avoidance is your best tool because the pull of these traps can sometimes be too hard to resist dead-on.
Make it easy on yourself by knowing who you are and what gives you the most difficulty. From there, it becomes easier to focus on what you need to do.
Now it’s your turn, readers. What are some procrastination traps that get the best of you? What have you done to avoid them? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]