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Social Networks: Helping to Socialize or Promoting Procrastination?

The introduction of social networks has definitely made modern life easier: they help people search for their long-lost but still remembered acquaintances, find new friends, dates, and even prospective partners. They are a huge step forward on the uneasy way of socialization for those who are shy and reserved and find it difficult to make friends and talk to strangers in public. Even these pluses put aside, using social networks is simply amusing. It helps reduce stress and mental activity to a minimum after a tough working day by offering new photos to check, online games to play, and the opportunity to spend some time just doing nothing. However, I could not but notice that the process of ‘doing nothing’ is sometimes prolonged from initial several minutes ‘just to check the news’ to hours of aimless clicking on strangers’ pages, posting photos, and surfing the net. While some surveys suggest that social networks seem to have no negative effect on students’ productivity as well as their ability to socialize in real life (Silverman 202), other studies reveal another danger. Some active users of the Internet and social networks admit that if they are left alone while surfing the net, they can go on for hours and hours, mind blank and unfocused, unable to stop (Burka and Yuen 67). Social networks get us involved in all sorts of useless and time-consuming activities, such as checking the same news a hundred times a day. It becomes so difficult to resist and abandon these activities to do some real work done that gradually people turn into someone now often called a chronic procrastinator.

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There are many reasons for procrastination, beginning with disorganization and finishing with perfectionism, which puts “constant pressure to achieve perfection” and results in “inevitable chronic failure” (Grohol). The roots of poor organization lie in correct task prioritizing, which most people seem incapable of. I have been procrastinating regularly, if not persistently, for quite a long time, and therefore may be called a chronic procrastinator. I always find myself feeling rather comfortable doing nothing work-related for some time, and then running around like a scalded cat when the deadline comes. Oppressive as responsibilities may be, procrastination always adds another pound of stress as I am pulling my hair out in despair, trying to manage to do everything on time. Still, I cannot say that any work shuns me like the plague – on the contrary, I feel most distressed when I have nothing to do. Thus, despite the fact that I believe the main reason of my procrastination to be simple laziness, it may not be totally true after all. My trouble is, I have most chaotic and unspeakably poor time management skills and I find it difficult to prioritize tasks.

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I cannot fasten all the blame for my procrastination on social networks. What I accuse them of is that they keep tempting to distract from work, like a snake of temptation, constantly offering non-forbidden fruit of Internet communication, online gaming, and doing nothing. As I look up from my work and stare at the laptop, bookmarks with pages in social networks glittering and beckoning from the monitor, it is as if it tells me in its snake-ish voice that I deserve some rest, or that the news will not check itself, or that there are hundreds of messages waiting, and I risk missing something important. After all, there is no harm in checking the news once, I tell myself. And that is when the vulture of procrastination swoops down on me, already helpless and restrained.

The first thing anti-procrastination articles advise doing (and the first thing I do myself) is making a to-do list. In my case this usually looks like a set of colorful stickers (because I simply love anything catching to the eye and will never miss it), which I put somewhere I can always see it. However, as a result of a certain amount of perfectionism, the colorful lists I make for myself may turn into a whole rainbow of tasks to accomplish by the end of the day, some of which may be absolutely unnecessary. Thus, to-do lists turn to some extent to wish lists and I hardly ever fail to find excuses for myself for not doing something in the list, stating I was too busy working on something else or had little time. Thus, it is important that procrastinators should be realistic and set realistic goals which are worth achieving. It is no use getting carried away by the vast universe of unachieved goals, putting them all into the list and then jump out of one’s skin to satisfy themselves. To-do lists often consist not of what people need to do but of what they want to do (“Procrastination: Cultural Explorations”).

In order to set my mind up for work, I make myself a nice cup of cinnamon coffee to pick me up and create an enjoyable atmosphere. I often encourage myself, stating that there is still plenty of time left. However, it may be difficult to persuade yourself to do something which is not urgent. If it becomes a problem, I try to trick myself into doing it by promising special treats for completing the task in time and for doing it well. This usually works, although it is not an easy task to fool your own self. Thus, it is important to continue promoting and encouraging further activity by making the tasks more challenging. In the end, there is always a radical way out: to cut off access to social networks, as to the root of all evil. It may turn out not to be the root, but still this step will free more time for other, more interesting and useful things.

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In conclusion, procrastination has become a serious problem of the modern society (Grohol). The main reasons for it are raging perfectionism, poor time management skills and inability to prioritize tasks. However, procrastination is not a malady; it is a problem which can be tackled. All one has to do is to find the main reason and try and deal with it first: no matter if it involves straining one’s perfectionism or trying to set right priorities.

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