Smartphone Addiction, A Growing Problem for All Ages

Overuse Runs Deep and It’s Meant to

In 2012, Harvard Business Professor, Leslie Perlow released “Sleeping With Your Smartphone”. A look at the Boston Consulting Group’s struggle with smartphone addiction and the results of letting employees unplug. Of the 1600 managers and professionals she worked with,

  • 56% checked their phone within an hour of going to sleep.
  • 51% checked continuously during vacations.
  • 70% looked at their phone within an hour of waking up.
  • 44% said they would experience a great deal of anxiety if they lost their phone and couldn’t replace it for the week.

These statistics are the habits of professional adults and older millennials. A generation who grew up alongside smartphones, but can remember a time without them. According to the 2017 mobile results by the Pew Research center, 92% of adults aged 18-29 have a smartphone.

The prominence of technology in young adult and teenage life is alarming. As Tristan Harris, founder of TimeWellSpent puts it, “never before in history have basically 50 mostly men, mostly 20-35, mostly white engineer designer types, had control of what a billion people think and do, when they wake up in the morning and turn their phone over.” These engineers and designers work hard to maximize every moment we spend in their app. They’re paid to get us to scroll past ads, consume content, and come back for more. Because of this, social media giants review practices and new research to tighten their grip on attention.

Reinforcing their behavior to promote passive consumption comes straight from the top. Reed Hastings, CEO of Netflix recently said, “Netflix biggest competitor is sleep”. Not competition from HBO, Amazon Video, or YouTube, but an innate human need. There’s enough room in the media industry for multiple successful corporations. The most difficult part of growth is the limited time each individual has to consume content. Netflix, and other media giants, can’t do anything to mitigate your need for sleep. But, they can make content more appealing so you make poor choices.

Phone habits interrupt sleep

A Change in Behavior 

Logging into social media provides satisfaction derived from an altered mood and triggered by feelings of joy. Psychologists call this variable ratio schedule. It’s identical to how slot machines and gambling become addictive. It’s impossible to tell when we’ll get reactions to our tweets, photo’s, or status updates. So, we keep coming back, hoping for a couple comments or likes to give us affirmation.

This behavior alone isn’t unhealthy. Interacting with friends and family is one of the positive aspects of social media. We’re exposed to different viewpoints, new opinions, and interests we didn’t know we had.

When we spend time with our partners, have lunch with friends, or need to focus at work, the tug of smartphones is a real distraction. Quick cans of your phone add up. If its too frequent you end up out of the loop, conversation breaks down, and you’ll upset someone you care about. Especially if your habit of checking the phone coincides with a friend unpacking their stressful day.

Unfortunately, social media is the perfect habit forming loop. We need a cue, our notifications. A simple routine, opening an app. And a reward, the responses to our post, a tag, or a mention. These are all enabled by some craving, distraction, boredom, or lack of focus. This loop is what makes social media so appetizing and so hard to distance ourselves from.

Smartphone addiction caused by habits
Every habit starts from a craving

Concerned with the impact of smartphone use on teenagers and young adults the Royal Society for Public Health, conducted a study of 1500 14-24 year olds. This subset of individuals is often referred to as “digital natives”. Young adults who’ve never lived in a world without cable internet.

The report, social media and young people’s mental health, highlights heavy social media users, those who get around two hours a day. They’re more likely to suffer from social anxiety, depression, poor body confidence, lack of sleep, and a heightened fear of missing out. But, there is some good news. The same group noted feelings of emotional support and community building, access to health experts, self-expression, and maintaining relationships.

It’s possible the lack of education around smart phone use is the monumental barrier to change. It’s common to see toddlers and young children watch videos on their parents devices. Without any interaction or context these videos provide little to no education opportunities. Because we grew up outside of their influence it’s easier to see the impacts of smartphones. Digital natives will never have that opportunity. They need some other way to understand the effects of always being plugged in.

Phone Addiction on the Brain

Notifications inhibit our ability to focus on a single task. They’re intrusive in active engagement as the need to address them builds up over time. Even hearing the chime or buzz on your phone is enough to set off the Ovsiankina effect. Which states a task stays in working memory while it goes unaddressed. Suddenly your phones gives you a new goal, acknowledging a notification. Some part of your brain wants to pay attention and respond. It’s a constant distraction.

Forget multitasking, very few of us can do it, roughly 2% of the population. The brain is capable of rapidly switching between tasks, making us feel as though we’re multitasking. But, this ability is only useful for short bursts of immediate task activation. Trying to write a couple hundred words while checking your phone will result in failure. As a result, you’ll need to revisit each topic multiple times whereas focusing on one and then the other would have net better results.

Our brain has to make a cognitive sacrifice when switching tasks. Accomplishing multiple projects in the same time period doesn’t make you a multitasker. It makes you the person dedicated to inefficiency.

Even having our phone in the open, on silent, is enough to decrease cognitive capacity. Professor Ward at the University of Texas at Austin had participants take a series of tests measuring cognitive capacity. Individuals were instructed to leave their phones on the desk, placed in a bag, or left in another room.

Participants with their phones in another room drastically outperformed the group with their phones in view. And marginally outperformed the group that had their phones tucked away. The strain your brain is put under trying to ignore your phone is enough to cause cognitive decline. Notifications amplify this effect, but aren’t necessary for intrusive thoughts. The mere presence of your smartphone limits cognitive ability.

Technology does a great deal to impinge on our focus. There used to be time devoid of outside interaction. We didn’t have access to an endless supply of information and entertainment. In these moments individuals focused on their side projects or hobbies. Now, we have to carve that time out.

In an interview with Forbes, Daniel Goleman outlines three types of focus; Inner, Outer, and Other. Smartphone addiction dismantles inner focus. Our ability to self-manage and prioritize daily life. Instead we direct our inner focus towards social media and other apps. One of my coworkers calls this, “the scroll”. Our habit of devouring content from Reddit, Instagram, Facebook, or any other feed.

Smartphone Addiction Solutions

People send notifications. Machines send distractions.

Turn Off NotificationsGo into your settings and stop notifications from any app that doesn’t have direct human contact on the other end. Apps are designed to suck you back in. This means no games, YouTube, Facebook, or Reddit.

Go into your SETTINGS > NOTIFICATIONS and turn off any notification that doesn’t come from person. Keep apps like Messenger, Messages, and GroupMe.

Tools in the front. Distractions in the back.

Productivity UpfrontPut your todolist and functional apps up front. Anything that helps you stay organized or productive belongs on your homepage. Everything else belongs in the apps section. You should put as much distance between yourself and distractions as possible. Every tap counts.

Charge outside of your room

Keep your phone out of reach at nightThe blue light from phones affects melatonin and makes you feel awake later in the evening. I don’t follow this rule exactly. Instead, I put my phone on the other side of the room. I still like to use it as my alarm clock, but now I have to get up to turn it off. This serves to get me moving and helps me avoid checking my phone first thing in the morning.

Apps that manage time

Apps used for focused workI track and manage the time I spend online with two different apps. RescueTime measures my time on different applications on my phone and computer. It helps me track my productivity and highlights where I spent the most time getting distracted.

The other is Forest. It provides a simple overlay for my phone reminding me to focus any time I unlock my phone. I turn this on at work and home. It’s main premise is reminding you that you were trying to avoid looking at your phone. Nothing flashy.

Solutions for More Focus

Curate content down to what’s important.

When learning a new skill it’s important to keep it in your field of vision. This includes your digital space. Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube let you limit the content in front of your eyes. Take the time to sort through what’s essential and what isn’t. It’s a minor step to getting yourself sorted.

If you’re learning how to draw make sure you follow other artists on Twitter and Instagram for inspiration. Take the time to engage with them and turn distracting apps into productive ones. The same goes for any video sharing app. There are endless tutorials available through YouTube. Make sure you’re following your favorite teachers and limit your exposure to distracting content.

Drop Apps you check at home.

If the first thing you do when you get home is check Facebook, Quora, or your personal email, then uninstall the apps on your phone. Unless you have a real reason like, fiscal or familial responsibilities, you have no reason to keep getting caught up in the scroll. Remove the apps from your phone and wait until you get home.

You’ll need something else to do.

If you follow just a couple of these you’re going to have a lot of free time. You need something to take over that time or you’re going to fall right back into old habits. Boredom is an absolute barrier to getting rid of bad habits. Bring a book with you, read long-form articles, or go for a walk. Any quick adjustment that will distract you from your phone will help replace bad habits.

Remember Your Motivations, They Drive You

Motivation is a “part of popular culture as few other psychological concepts are”. Those are the words of Martin Maehr and Heather Meyer, spoken almost two decades ago. Since then the fervor to understand motivation has only increased. But for some perplexing reason, we still discuss motivation and our motives as though they’re a brand new topic.

We view motivation as a limited source of energy. We can’t start our list of errands or head to the gym because ‘we’re just not motivated’. But, this isn’t how motivation works. It comes from our motives, our reasons to change or act in the first place. Everything we do has a motive behind it, but we forget the importance when we aren’t focused. Even lounging around the house comes from our motivation to relaxation. When we need to work we don’t need divine intervention, we need better a better understanding of our reasons to act.

Your motives drive you
Motives Drive Action

Our focus on motivation as an external source impinges it’s effectiveness. This external view is called extrinsic motivation and it’s only a fraction of what motivates us. Extrinsic motivators, like money and recognition, are reasons to act thrust on you by others. Whereas intrinsic motivation stems from the delight and fascination with the activity itself. Almost all the work you do involves a mix of each. But, unless you’re completely aware of the why behind your actions you might end up assuming things about yourself that aren’t true.

Intrinsic motivation is internal, long-lasting, and self-sustaining, but slow to develop. It’s also far more subjective. Depending on the context this can be a positive or negative. These characteristics support positive habits and make it a pain to drop negative ones. Extrinsic motivators are short-term, restricted, quick fixes with broad impact. They may undermine intrinsic motivation and often require rewards to increase over time.

Within either type of motivation are the incentive and aversive salience attention modifiers. These properties regulate the intensity of your behavior.

When we discuss motivation, we focus on positive incentives. We want to know what we get out of acting or behaving in a certain way. In psychology this is called incentive salience or approach behavior. the two factors, wanting and liking, compose incentive salience. The wanting factor determines our desire to consume or attain. It shifts our focus from simple objects or outcome to one that occupies our attention. The liking portion is the immediate pleasure we get after consumption.

Influenced by perceived value and required effort both factors can vary over short periods of time. As we work through decisions motivation fluctuates, sometimes rapidly, entirely in the unconscious.

Other times we use our conscious mind to figure out the best possible outcome. Like, how we want to unwind for the weekend.

You’re stressed, you decide your best option for Friday night is to kick back with a bottle of wine. Your first glass is fantastic. A preferred brand, you’ve been looking forward to all week, and the taste is exceptional. It’s possible you’re even more eager for the second glass than the first. But, once your second is empty you’ve got to decide just how deep into the bottle you want to go. After all you’ve got a hike in the morning and it’s been awhile since you drank. After a quick appraisal the third glass seems less appealing. It’s incentive salience has decreased and your aversion to another glass has increased. You decide to cork the bottle. Better safe than sorry.

Aversive salience, the impact of alcohol in our example, that caused avoidant behavior. We weren’t demotivated to drink another glass, we had legitimate reasons not to. The effects were associated with an undesirable outcome.

It’s difficult to account for all the factors that ultimately drive us towards action or inaction. It’s this lack of understanding around our motivations that make it tricky to deal with. Of course it’s hard to get up and go to the gym; your home is comfortable, you want to relax, and the gym doesn’t seem fun. Each of these are powerful motivators detracting from hard work, they’re averse and need to be recognized.

When we fail to understand our reasons to act we’re easily swayed. Our attention shifts from one salient distraction to the next until we’re finally reminded of our task. At that point, it’s impossible to tell if we’ll get back on track.

To detail what we know about motivations impact on behavior Dan Ariely designed an experiment focused on the importance of meaning. In his experiment participants built Bionicles that were subsequently taken apart for later use. For each Bionicle built, participants earned a small amount. Completing the first netted 3 dollars, the second $2.70, the third $2.40, and so on until they either gave up or the amount paid out reached zero. This was dubbed the meaningful experiment.

In the second condition participants built the same models but the experimenters reused them each time. If they agreed to build another they received a second, but if they decided to build a third for $2.40 they were given the initial model to reconstruct. This was called the sisyphic condition after the Greek myth of Sisyphus. Punished for his hubris and forced to push a boulder up a hill only to have it roll down as he neared the peak. This condition was meant to emulate Sisyphus and his unending, meaningless work.

Meaningful and Sisyphic Motivation Choices
Different Models Can Break Motivation

In the meaningful condition individuals built 50 percent more models than the sisyphic. A staggering amount of effort for a small difference. These individuals weren’t changing the world or helping the impoverished, they played with toys for pocket change. There was no opportunity to ascribe meaning, but the differentiation mattered substantially.

In another version of the experiment nothing was built or paid for, participants only heard the description of each condition. They understood meaning is important. But, they underestimated the magnitude. They expected the meaningful condition to build 15 percent more, less than a third of the total amount.

Ariely didn’t stop with the first few experiments. He knew some participants were fond of Legos and wanted to understand how that would change their behavior. In the meaningful experiment attachment to Legos correlated with effort, but, in the sisyphic experiment, attachment was meaningless. In Ariely’s own words, “this manipulation of breaking things in front of people we basically crushed any joy they could get out of this activity. We… eliminated it.”

In his final experiment participants had intrinsic and extrinsic incentives, but a change in process sapped their motivation. What we perceive as motivating; joy, effort, and money, lose potency without meaning. Understand what your goals and actions mean to you before blindly chasing them.

Your motives decide the intensity and frequency surrounding your behaviors. If you want to stay motivated you need to understand what’s motivating you and what keeps you in place. Leverage this knowledge and make changes that facilitate your goals.

Further Reading:
Motivation is Meaningless

Impostor Syndrome, You’re Better Than You Think

“The problems of success can be harder because nobody warns you about them. The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakeable conviction that you’re getting away with something and any moment now they will discover you. It’s Impostor syndrome.”

These words shared by renowned author, Neil Gaiman, to the graduating class of the University of Arts in 2013 highlight the dilemma of achievement.

Despite it’s name impostor syndrome isn’t a disease, but an experience. P. R. Clance and Suzanne Imes first introduced impostor syndrome in their seminal research paper, “The Imposter Syndrome in High Achieving Women”. Their research focused primarily on accomplished women, because this group talked about it openly. The pair worked for five years interviewing over 150 highly successful women. Women who had earned PHDs, honors in university, or regarded as exceptional in their field.

Regardless of their achievements they were incapable of internalizing their accomplishments. Instead, they assumed that success came from dumb luck, charm, or error in others judgement. The fact their discipline and talent was met with adulation seemed inconceivable. The researchers noted one particularly extreme example, a woman with “two master’s degrees, a PHD, and numerous publications didn’t even feel qualified to teach remedial college class in her field.” Imes and Clance found that this was in stark contrast to how men discussed their success and failures.

As research on impostor experience expanded no subgroup lacked the ability to feel like an impostor. It’s estimated that 70% of the population will experience Impostorism at some point in their lives. Individuals with traditionally poor access to their area of expertise are more susceptible to impostor episodes. And, by extension, more likely to suffer its debilitating effects.

Part of the impostor experience is the fear it imbues in individuals. The worst possible outcome is being found out as the fraud you imagine yourself to be. If you take a chance to open up you put yourself in a fragile position. Suddenly your abilities are under scrutiny. Exposure means that your peers will finally take a serious look at your work. Speculation runs rampant and silence triumphs. When you can’t discuss your experience you never get the opportunity to work through it.

It’s assumed this mental blockage is more typical in older men. While younger men, particularly millennials, are better at expressing themselves. The stereotypes surrounding men encourage them to shun feelings, they can’t be trusted. Any fears they possess are a sign of weakness and should be dealt with in isolation. After all, asking for help highlights our frailty. At least, this is the public assumption and as mentioned early, was the experience of Clance & Imes. But, when the CIPS, the scale used to measure impostor syndrome, was administered anonymously, “men were expressing it to the same degree”, says Clance. Which goes to show the disparity between reality and social-perception.

Impostor Syndrome Characteristics

Impostors, those suffering from some level of Impostor Syndrome, experience a range of characteristics. It’s not necessary to harbor each of these feelings at once but, some assortment is indicative of Impostorism.

  1. The Impostor Cycle – Induced by impostors ability to discount their achievements and set outlandish goals for themselves. Discrepancies between expected outcome and results serve to reinforce feelings of impostorism. As these incidences escalate and work becomes increasingly difficult, acknowledgement becomes more frequent and public. This drives impostors to work even harder on their next task and to expect more from themselves. In the end they’re overworked and incapable of continuing.
  2. Need to be the best – Impostors are incapable of distinguishing exceptional peers from average ones. They assume the number of exceptional individuals are far greater than in reality. Instead of viewing their work as exceptional they undermine it by pitting it against other high achievers. As a result Impostors are likely to dismiss their accomplishments.
  3. Superman/Superwoman – Related to the need to be the best. Impostors are besot by unrealistic expectations either from parents at an early age or by themselves. They think that high quality work should be done without struggle. And, when they inevitably exert some effort they deem themselves failures.
  4. Fear of failure – Performance related tasks are met with dread and anxiety. Any possibility of not attaining the highest level of accomplishment is met with overworking. Impostors do whatever they can to insure they meet the highest standards to avoid exposure.
  5. Discounting Praise/Denying Competence – It’s common for individuals suffering from impostor experience to ascribe success to external forces. When their abilities are praised they brush them off as circumstantial. Worse, some impostors will try and reason why they don’t deserve accolades. This creates a negative feedback loop for Impostors to focus on.
  6. Guilt and Fear of Success – Comes from their apprehension to take on more responsibility and ‘expose’ themselves. If Impostors are working to exhaustion at their current pace, then success means they’ll have to try even harder. How are they going to be able to manage even more work? With this mindset individuals have to walk a delicate line. Maintain a healthy work life balance while over-achieving.

The number one trait associated with Impostorism is conscientiousness. Defined using the Big Five, conscientious individuals exhibit high levels of diligence and likely fall into the trap of perfectionism.

Perfectionist set unrealistic goals because they need to feel worthy of praise. They believe the only way to meet outside expectations is to have goals above and beyond the average. These associations promote high levels of organization, strong work habits, and careful deliberation. None of these traits are bad in isolation. In fact, they are highly sought after soft skills. But when they conflict with your ability to clearly see yourself, they are harmful.

Since these outlandish goals are often unachievable Impostors self-deprecate. Even if the work they completed is of high caliber their inability to meet their own standards enforces impostor experience.

Worse, impostors have a paradoxical experience involving diligence and self-perception. Impostors work hard to avoid being ‘found out’. This hard work is met with praise which they perceive as a threat. The more attention they get the harder they must work to avoid detection. Since they’re already capable, they beget more recognition and the cycle continues. This creates a vicious circle of work, stress and exhaustion that Impostors have little hope of avoiding.

You’d assume adoration mediates Impostorism, but research and interviews show otherwise. Maya Angelou once shared her encounters with Impostorism, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” Her statement serves to highlight how long-lasting and difficult impostor experience can be. Even at the heights of fame.

Impostor syndrome undermines our self-perception

I was interested in my own rating on the imposter scale. It’s difficult not to be when you delve into a topic. I rate quite high, 61 out of 100, just past the cusp of frequent feelings of impostor experience. This is definitely accurate. I rate highly on trait conscientiousness according to the Big Five personality assessment. Which means I’m more susceptible to contend with perfectionism. I work hard to keep up appearances, but I don’t know for who or for what. Most people commend me for my diligence, but I imagine if I internalize their praise my drive will fade away. That’s something I’m not comfortable with yet.

I know I should be kinder and more flexible with myself. I don’t do anyone any good when I can’t perform at my fullest due to exhaustion, and my own work will suffer as a result. It’s definitely worthwhile to take a step back and attempt to check where I am in life and what I’ve achieved.

The American Psychological Association has some suggestions on how to manage Impostorism.

  • Talk with mentors and peers about their experiences with impostor syndrome. As noted earlier it’s expected that 70% of the population experiences Impostorism. It’s incredibly likely someone who’s opinion you value understands what you’re going through. Get support from people who know your work and that you feel comfortable with is a strong step towards internalizing your abilities.
  • Don’t mitigate your work. Stop trying to justify why you aren’t worthy of praise. The people around you aren’t so daft that they couldn’t detect a fraud. They’re paying respects to you because your work adds value. Recognize that and remember what you do well.
  • Be kind to yourself. Respect the process, not only the results. Diligence is an admirable trait. Instead of working yourself through the night take a break and gauge your progress. Cut yourself off in order to get rest. The negative habits you’ve built up through impostor syndrome take time to break.

Impostor experience doesn’t need to be a part of life. The next time you start to feel like your work isn’t worthy of praise remember how common this phenomena is. Internalize your success and let it motivate you, rather than the fear of being ‘found out’.

Further Reading on Impostor Syndrome

Many men are suffering from Impostor Syndrome

How various minority groups suffer from Impostor Syndrome

Neil Gaiman on Impostor Syndrome



Procrastinate Your Way To Productivity!

Productive procrastination is the act of putting off primary goals to focus on minor errands. Usually the chores you’d dread doing any other day, but because you have some daunting task down the line, you’ll do anything to avoid it. You can use this state to your advantage. If your chores are piling up or you’ve been slouching on work, what better opportunity to get them done than avoiding more work.

One of my current goals is consistent writing. But unless I have structure during my work time I’m prone to forget about it. Even when I do remember it takes quite a bit for me to start writing. I tend to need motivation from finishing other work to dive in.

When it’s too difficult to write I don’t want to fall back on bad habits. This is where the procrastination piece comes in. Instead of opening up Facebook or Youtube I set my sights on my easiest task. Usually these are positive habits I’ve developed; reading a book, cleaning my room, or going to the gym. Though, on occasion I fall behind watching Game of Thrones and spend the evening catching up.

My process is similar to a to-do list. Yet, I don’t fret over what does and doesn’t make the list. It only needs to provide value in the short or long term. This includes, and sometimes mandates, rest and relaxation.

What I do instead of hard work has produced some of my favorite results. When I first started going to the gym I was hoping for recognition. I wanted to be fit and noticeable (admittedly by women). Now I go to start off my day right or clear my head. It’s the perfect time to listen to podcasts, meet like-minded people, and get energized. All with the added benefit of getting into shape.

I’d say the same about the time I’ve spent learning Excel. What started as one of the only things I could do at a monotonous job is now my primary source of income. I’ve landed jobs, created side projects, and boosted my productivity. These aren’t buzzwords you’d ever associate with endless hours on social media.

None of this would be possible without a well of motivation. That’s exactly what procrastination is. At least if you look at it the same way as famed humorist Robert Benchley.

While his peers described him as a tenacious writer during his tie as a freelancer in the 1920s. He often described himself as a loaf. The difference existed due to his unique perspective. While he knew how to get work done, it wasn’t always the right work.

“The secret of my incredible energy and efficiency in getting work done is a simple one,” he claimed. “The psychological principle is this: anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment.” Anyone who’s finished a surprising amount of arduous work to avoid another task knows how true this is.

Stanford philosophy professor John Perry is an avid procrastinator and hard worker. While he calls his process structured procrastination, the outline is interchangeable. He’s got quite a few strategies for getting stuff done outlined in this Business Insider article.

He offers some counterintuitive advice that feels like a major takeaway. When we’re faced with a major task we assume taking a whole day to focus on it is our best option. After all, with nothing else on our plate there’s no way we won’t finish.

This is flat out wrong. If you’re lacking time management skills well before a deadline you won’t have them in the final hour. Combined with the stress coming from an absence of resources, you’ll seldom do your best work.

When you cut down on other obligations you remove a source of motivation. If you’ve only got one thing to do, you won’t get anything else done. At least that’s the hope. In reality you’re still going to procrastinate. Meaning you’ll do a lot and accomplish little. Worst of all, if you fail to finish your one task you’ve blown a whole day. You’ll feel guilty over a wasted day and still need to find time to get things done.

It’s important to build a list of tasks to complete. The little victories you get from checking off assignments elicits substantial motivation. Even if you put off your most important task until the very end. You’ll have drive from earlier accomplishments to push through.

Defining your expectations and outcomes provides you a structure to work with. That’s exactly what we need when we procrastinate.

When you’ve got abstract goals it’s difficult to say whether you’re procrastinating or not. Dr. Pychyl at the University of Ottawa notes that our intention to do act decides if we’re procrastinating. During an interview with NPR he mentioned a crack running across his windshield,

“I don’t feel I’m procrastinating in getting it fixed because I’ve never set an intention and said, next Wednesday I’m going to get it fixed. Now once I set the intention and if I go past that date, then I’m truly procrastinating because for some reason, I thought that was the optimum time to act.”

He makes an important distinction between a failure to act and failure to form an intent. Sometimes we get intentions from outside sources, other times we pass it onto ourselves. When we discover that purpose we have a decision to make,

“… what are you going to do with your time?” John Perry asks, “Are you going to just sit on a couch feeling bad about not doing it? Then you’ll end up being both a procrastinator and very depressed.”

Further Reading:

Productive Procrastination is not an Oxymoron – Interview with John Perry

How to be a Productive Procrastinator – An NPR recording with John Perry and Timothy Pychyl

Use Procrastination to Get Things Done – Interview with John Perry