Facebook. Instagram. Pinterest. Face Time. Skype. Linked In. Web browsing. Email. Instant messaging. Google Hangouts. Game of Thrones. Solitaire. Every possible way to put off a task can be found on the Web. For most of us, these handy distractions are fully available and calling our names from the computer or mobile device on which we’re writing our projects. We excuse this kind of procrastination from writing by calling it multitasking and suggesting that, actually, trying to write while cruising social media is a skill and a sign of our great intelligence. Can I just call humbug on that belief? There really is no such thing as multitasking. Every time we “multitask,” we change focus. The brain and hands really aren’t doing two things at once. We must interrupt our writing and our focus on it to change screens and to attend to that screen. The truth is, dear procrastinators, cruising social media just won’t help us finish that project. No one else is going to type the sentences, paragraphs, and pages that comprise this major project while we play on the computer. We have to take responsibility for our work, which means calling multitasking what it actually is—a form of procrastination that encourages our attention to wander and changes our focus away from the project. A psych break is one thing. But if we find ourselves spending hours on social media or other Web-based entertainment during writing time, it’s time for a good, hard look at our work habits. So-called multitasking isn’t going to get the job done!
- Pick a time to entertain yourself with Facebook and other entertainment and social media that is either well before or after completing writing for the day.
- Have a writing schedule that makes sense to you. Perhaps end the day’s writing by printing out your new pages, and then play to let off some pressure. Re-read your writing and mark it up before bed. First thing in the morning, key in the changes that you made the night before and add or change text that your good brain worked on subconsciously while you slept. Then, begin your new writing day, ending it with a “save,” “print,” and “play” cycle.
- Close email, Facebook, and other unessential windows when writing. Give yourself a break every hour and a half (or so) for a quick read of what’s going on in the world. Then, close those windows again.
- On a time crunch? Go off social media totally! By going cold turkey, you’ll be surprised at how much you get done and how little you miss all those memes and posts that irritate or otherwise destroy focus.
- If you need help finding ways to stop procrastinating, get a skilled writing coach who can help you manage your time and provide yourself with much-needed downtime after productive writing time.