The average American spends between 7 and 8 hours a day parked in front of an electronic screen. Whether your poison of choice is a PC, laptop, television, tablet or even your smartphone makes no difference, you’re still hurting yourself — eyestrain, sensory overload, insomnia — these are all negative side effects of too much screen time. Psychology Today calls this Electronic Screen Syndrome, and it can shorten your attention span and make it difficult to accomplish more necessary tasks that don’t involve staring at a rectangular screen for hours on end.
But how do you train yourself to log off and shut down earlier each day so you can focus on those chores you’ve been putting off for weeks? Believe it or not, this same technology that’s distracting you for nearly half of every day can also be used to save you from your errant ways. Apps, computer programs and the increasingly popular fitness bands all call upon the same sort of technology that’s currently leading you astray; it’s just being used in a more constructive manner. To beat your procrastination, try one of these:
Pomodoro Time Pro — The Pomodoro Technique involves separating chunks of your time into manageable 25-minute increments. Designed to help you work and study more productively, Pomodoro Time Pro works on your iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, and has received a solid 4 1/2-star rating from users. Allowing you to set your own tasks, edit the number of pomodoros needed to complete each task and factor in the number and length of breaks, this handy little app is a fun and immersive way to better learn how to manage your time. Pomodoro Time Pro is available on iTunes for $1.99.
Beat Procrastination with Andrew Johnson — This app is different from its competitors in that it’s not a scheduling app. Instead a series of guided meditations help you break through the barriers of procrastination to become a more productive person. Beat Procrastination with Andrew Johnson is available on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch for $2.99 from the iTunes Store and has a rating of 4 1/2 stars for the narrator’s soothing voice and helpful meditations that will help you leave procrastination behind for good.
Freedom — Sadly, it’s often the Internet itself that feeds your procrastination problem. And if you’re someone who does a lot of work online — writing, making spreadsheets, or doing research, you’re just one solitary click away from procrastination at all times. If Facebook, Twitter or your favorite cooking show on YouTube is keeping you from being as productive as you can be, try Freedom. It allows you to pick and choose the websites that lure you in, and effectively blocks them for as long as you’d like. And if it’s everything from Netflix binges to the pings of your friend’s posts that’s causing the issue, Freedom also gives you the option of blocking everything, all at once. Best of all, this program works across all your devices, including your PC, mobile android devices, iPhone and iPad. Freedom gives you the option of using their free, plus or premium plans and offers a 7-day, no-risk trial.
Instant Boss — Instant Boss is a program that allows you to set allotted periods of work and break time to separate large projects into smaller, more manageable segments. The default timer begins at 10 minutes of work with 2 minutes of break that repeats five times for a total of one hour. At the end of the hour, you’ve worked for a solid 50 minutes while having taken a cumulative 10-minute break. For those who have trouble concentrating or staying focused for long periods of time, Instant Boss could be just the program that revolutionizes your productivity. Work minutes, break minutes and the repeat cycle are all fully customizable so you can set it up to more accurately reflect your own work habits. Instant Boss is a free download for Windows.
So the next time you get lost in the dark nether of social media, WordPress or an entire season of your favorite television drama, download one of these apps or programs. They’ll help you plan, schedule, set goals, track progress, and reward yourself for a job well done, which in turn, will hopefully help you develop good habits for life.
Technology That Gets You Moving
Another savvy way to break the iron bands of procrastination is to get your body up and moving. Technology can help with that as well when you invest in a good fitness tracker. Fitbit Surge is one that garners good reviews, so is Basis Peak. Both are worn as convenient wristbands, and both double as sports watches. The Fitbit Surge adds a GPS to its design and has the added perk of working with Windows. A decent fitness tracker will cost upwards of $120, but it’s an easy way to track your workouts and your heart rate without missing important notifications like text and email.
Natural Procrastination Busters
Of course, if you’re not keen on using technology to defeat technology, there are always more traditional methods of beating procrastination:
- Read a Book — Stephen R. Covey’s groundbreaking book titled “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” reads like a primer on how to overcome obstacles like procrastination.
- Practice “Mindfulness” — The art of mindfulness has its roots in religion, but today it’s the very heart of meditation. When you actively seek to live in the moment instead of regretting the past or anticipating what’s going to happen tomorrow, your days become longer and more productive. Mindfulness helps intensify focus — the exact thing that screen time slowly destroys.
- Tweak Your Diet — That temptation to lose yourself in mindless activities for hours on end could have its basis in fatigue or depression. It’s easy to push difficult tasks to the back burner in lieu of comfort when you don’t feel well. If this sounds like you, try adding more protein and balancing your meals to include plenty of fruits and vegetables along with moderate servings of fiber-rich carbohydrates. You might also try adding such natural supplements as vitamin B, zinc, iron or magnesium.
After all, that Fortune-500 Company is out there recruiting for its next CEO right now, and it’s not advertising on Facebook. So what are you waiting for? Stop procrastinating and start increasing your productivity today.