Note: The strategy described at the end of this essay didn’t work. It would work for a while, and then I’d gradually find myself using the Internet on my work computer. I’m trying other strategies now, but I think this time I’ll wait till I’m sure they work before writing about them.
Procrastination feeds on distractions. Most people find it uncomfortable just to sit and do nothing; you avoid work by doing something else.
So one way to beat procrastination is to starve it of distractions. But that’s not as straightforward as it sounds, because there are people working hard to distract you. Distraction is not a static obstacle that you avoid like you might avoid a rock in the road. Distraction seeks you out.
Chesterfield described dirt as matter out of place. Distracting is, similarly, desirable at the wrong time. And technology is continually being refined to produce more and more desirable things. Which means that as we learn to avoid one class of distractions, new ones constantly appear, like drug-resistant bacteria.
Television, for example, has after 50 years of refinement reached the point where it’s like visual crack. I realized when I was 13 that TV was addictive, so I stopped watching it. But I read recently that the average American watches 4 hours of TV a day. A quarter of their life.