Be More Effective – Week 18: Declare War on Procrastination and Wasted Time

Did you check Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn updates today? Did you play a game on your phone? For how long? Did you wonder where the time went? Did you feel better and more satisfied afterwards or did it leave a little sour taste in your mouth?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to use social media and play games. As long as you do it deliberately. In martial arts we learn that the key to everything is to make conscious decisions, take deliberate action and be aware of what’s going on.

Make conscious decisions, take deliberate action and be aware of the time you spend.

If you feel like playing a game, do so for all means. But decide before, how long you want to play and be deliberate as to what else you will not do in order to play that game. Make a conscious decision to not go in the yard to smell flowers because you want to play that game for 30 mins.

Do not just do those things so that you don’t have to tackle a chore you didn’t want to do.

Years ago, Uli and I would watch TV in the evenings. We would sit down, hop across channels, watch shows that we only halfway liked and endured commercials. Since we rarely found something that was truly satisfying we kept looking for much of the evening and went to bed way to late, only to be groggy and cranky the next morning. We don’t have cable anymore. On weekends we often watch one movie with our kids (one for the weekend) and have a lot of fun doing so. Otherwise the screen stays off.

Same for social media. A few years ago, I used to spend a lot of time on Facebook feeds or news outlets (the real ones, not all the made-up fake news). I hardly ever got satisfied and I almost never felt better. Now I get up in the morning, take a shower and go to work right away. As a result, I come home to my kids a little earlier in the evening. I don’t miss anything, but gain a lot. I do check Facebook on Saturday mornings, but I do it deliberately (I might even stop that, since the news feed gets worse every time).

Decide how you want to spend your time. Set a limit. Track the limit. Don’t just do it to have an excuse to be lazy. If you want to be lazy, make it deliberately and proudly.

In the beginning it can help to set yourself screen time limits. Monitor how you do spend time and decide what it should be. Write it down. Then start controlling your time. Turn of the screen. Cancel your cable subscription.

Only do what gives you real longterm pleasure – it’s likely not your screen.

However, please do get me right. If you love Facebook, a game, a TV show and get pleasure and satisfaction from it every time you watch it, please do so. Likewise procrastination doesn’t only come in the form of digital media. You might as well procrastinate fiddling around in the house because you don’t want to get yourself to the office work. Doing dishes has so much more appeal during tax season than in the months after you turned in your taxes.

Control your procrastinations. Do them deliberately (or not at all).

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