You know the feeling, everyone does. You’ve been chugging on that paper for something like three hours, no end in sight, so how much harm could scrolling through Twitter do?
Boom. You get stuck on The Onion, then you find your way to BuzzFeed, which shows you what kind of pasta you are.
It’s midnight. You still have six pages left on that paper.
“Where did the time go?” you ask, to nobody in particular. Who’s to blame for this atrocity but you? After all, you had all afternoon on this paper, but here you are cramming at midnight. How is anyone supposed to keep up to date with group chats, finish their papers and also get good sleep?
I present to you an idea that’s worked for me – an idea I coined as “microslacking.” It’s the act of working in long sessions and spending at most 30 seconds doing something else, while still keeping your mind on the true task at hand. How does this even work?
Before I sat down to hash out this article I did one last run-through on social media, which I find key to any good work session. While trudging through the mindlessness of adding some fluff to a paper or writing a mathematical proof, it’s important to keep one’s mind engaged. Thing is, it doesn’t matter that much if it’s a study guide or someone’s hilarious Snapchat story – as long as your mind doesn’t go adrift. This balance is crucial.
A reader might ask, “OK, how is this different from the Pomodoro strategy?” For reference, Pomodoro is a technique that emphasizes work sessions of 25 minutes, followed by break periods of five minutes. Rinsing and repeating this, one can accomplish any task without feeling excessively worn out.
However, my problem with Pomodoro is the following: Pomodoro breaks last substantially longer than those in “miroslacking,” and in a scenario where every second of sleep matters, it adds up. Pomodoro breaks also depend on your mind breaking from the task at hand. This isn’t always good. Finally, regularly scheduled time intervals are the bane of freedom. Who wants to have their life controlled by an egg timer?
To properly microslack, you have to be disciplined and be able to aggressively slack. This doesn’t sound incredibly hard, as procrastinating is second nature for many (including myself). Yet what I mean by this is the ability to engage in whatever you’re procrastinating with at a more intense level than usual – really reading into whatever you’re reading, or finding details in a picture. It’s important to spend your precious slacking time wisely, right?
By staying intentional and engaged, even in slacking off, I am able to stay productive.
My rule set is simple – “pick one, read five, down.” I’ve repeated this mantra so many times that it’s been entirely burned into my mind.
It means to pick one form of procrastination (commonly my guilty pleasure, Twitter), read five items (Twitter has tweets for example), then commit yourself to putting the device down. Having a different device for working and for slacking is beyond essential, because the physical feeling of putting a device down will help you put your mind back on track.
A typical all-day working session will involve only a half an hour across social media for me, and it’s always incredibly efficient. Using platforms like RescueTime, a program which tracks time spent on applications and websites, I’ve found that on average I take 50-60 of these tiny breaks a day, adding up to an adequate time on social media. These breaks are always short, intentional, and engaged.
The best part is, these breaks can be taken at any time. Having a good feel for when resting spots are is crucial to microslacking properly. Knowing when you can put down something and pick it back up seamlessly is very important in keeping your flow through the tiny break.
Being able to keep your mind on your procrastination target as well as your actual task is really fun at times. I’ve never found any other time management method as simple and rewarding as this, and I’d encourage anyone to try it. Happy microslacking!