"1. One of the reasons that social networking is so rewarding is that it fulfills a basic human need, at least at some level. That is the need for relatedness. We are social animals, and social networking makes sense.
"2. Online social networking is also immediately rewarding. This is a potentially addictive combination — rewarding and immediate. In fact, there is a great deal written about Internet addictions. Although it is beyond the scope of my writing to delve into this topic, it is important to note that the powerfully addictive nature of the Internet contributes to the self-regulation failure that you now understand is at the heart of procrastination. It can undermine our best intentions.
"3. A third reason that the Internet can be a problem for procrastination is that it is a ready distraction, which is particularly troublesome for those of us who are impulsive. In fact, it can be a problem for all of us because of so many 'push technologies.' For example, email and text messages are pushed to us throughout the day, so as we work, we can be constantly interrupted if we leave our email client and phone active in the background. These distractions can be exceptionally disruptive at moments when our on-task work is not going well. Then we are back to that 'it will only take a minute to . . .' and our goal pursuit ends in favor of tasks that we really are not choosing to do, at least not in the long run (although it can end up that way, to our detriment).
"4. On top of all of this is the myth of multitasking. I say myth because despite popular beliefs, research indicates that only a very small percentage of people can actually multitask effectively. Humans have a very limited attentional channel. We are better off focused on one thing at a time. Tragic traffic accidents are only one example of how potentially dangerous the myth of multitasking can be as texting drivers lose their focus on the road. The more mundane tragedy of multitasking is how we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are actually doing our work when in fact we are attending sporadically to our tasks in between email, social-networking updates, Internet searches, ecommerce, and gaming.
Strategies for Change
"Although I discuss the procrastination superhighway as a separate chapter in this book, the principles for change are not really that different. They may just be a whole lot less appealing. For example, we have already addressed the notion of minimizing distractions when we discussed impulsivity. Minimizing distractions is part of that predecision to keep us on task.
"Minimizing distractions is an important part of curbing our online procrastination. To stay really connected to our goal pursuit, we need to disconnect from potential distractions like social-networking tools. This means that we should not have Facebook, Twitter, email, or whatever your favorite suite of tools is running in the background on your computer or smartphone while you are working. Shut them off."