If, like me, you’ve got loads of things to do but your procrastination abilities are en pointe, for example I’m known for my spontaneity and it flares outta control when I need to do other things, then I’ve got two apps to manage your own behaviour and force you into studying/working/adulting. Consider this an offshoot of “
Science Tech up your Life“. I also discuss the psychology of the “Programmable Self” and Humanity 2.0.
Distractions, procrastination and lack of willpower.
I’m currently in the last leg of writing up my thesis. This means I’ve analysed the results of my study and should know the theory backwards and recite it in French in my sleep. The whole thing has been a nightmare and all of my stress at the moment boils down to the MSc, so I just want it done so I can move on. I imagine that the world will be rainbows and random impulsive celebration dances… a little like the Aquarius scene in 40 Year Old Virgin. Peace, love and happiness ✌️ and all that. Why can’t I just write it up then? Hand it in ASAP and be done?
Everything Internet. That’s why. I’ve found out before that I’ve often worked well on a train with no wifi or in a bustling cafe where it’s not cool to watch Ben Brown on Youtube, although, I think he’s cool. When money’s tight or it’s January and everywhere in town is ridiculously busy, I like to work from home. Working from home means I have an uphill struggle fighting against every distraction you can think of. I’ve even Feng Shuied my entire flat.
You’re probably screaming at this blog post by now – but then, don’t YOU have something to do? – telling me to just do it and have some self-discipline. That, my friends, requires willpower and in turn, willpower requires effort and runs out quickly, it’s a limited resource. I’ll suddenly need to be watching random vlogs about people I don’t know again in no time.
I’ve got a technological solution to my very human nature problem and have adopted applications in my life to manage my behaviour for me, so I can invest all of my energy into the tasks that I’m supposed to doing.
The Psychology of the ‘Programmable Self’
It’s okay to allow technology to help you become a more ‘desirable’ version of yourself by prompting you with behavioural modification, a programmable self, if you will. That doesn’t mean that we’re turning into robots, it’s not dangerous nor unethical. You’re still in full control of yourself, just self-policing your bad habits and getting rid of the “white noise” or “buffering” that is stopping you from reaching your goals. Maybe in time with more invasive technology, artificial intelligence or technology that allows us to be lazier than ever (laziness is different to lacking willpower) then this will be different – “Humanity 2.0“.
The apps that you should download right now.
The first app I use to increase willpower when writing my thesis is Freedom (free for the ‘light’ version). This app keeps me offline, no excuses. Once freedom is activated for whatever set time (1 minute to 8 hours) you can’t access the internet; no Youtube or social media, nothing. You can’t turn it off, theres no loop round (that I know of – don’t tell me if there is). You’ve finally invested all of your energy into writing up, because you simply can’t do anything else. I set mine to 2 hour bursts. I find that I can work with intense focus for 2 hours before I need a break. During my break I check to make sure I haven’t missed out on anything (I haven’t, ever), make myself a brew and set another 2 hours. The motivation slowly returns.
Another app I would just like to mention is Alarmy (£1.49). This is the ultimate alarm clock (Sleep If U Can) as it wakes you up with a shrilling noise and won’t stop until you’ve got up and taken a picture of your bathroom sink. It’s working for me again at the moment after a couple of weeks with no motivation to get up (and the guilt) where I would go back to bed, there are some loopholes (don’t read the reviews, you cheat). At the moment, I’m getting up at 7:30am like clockwork and feeling great, productive, and more motivated to write my thesis. On bad days where the walk to the bathroom sink isn’t enough, what about taking a picture of your kitchen sink, or your kettle?
What apps do you use?