Tag Archives: Technology

Stop Putting Off Your Procrastination Problem

The definition of procrastination is putting off something that was planned or scheduled.  Statistics indicate that most people procrastinate.  At least 20 percent of the population calls themselves chronic procrastinators, and according to some researchers, procrastination has more than quadrupled in the last 30 years. 

I think that more and more people have become accustomed to procrastination in recent years for the same reasons that fewer men are going to college and fewer young adults are becoming autonomous – very little is expected of them anymore.

When we were in the era of responsibility, obligations were taken seriously.  Very few people procrastinated because there were consequences for doing so.  However, people today are hardly ever held accountable for anything, especially teens and young adults.  It used to be that if you had an 8-to-4 job, you arrived at your desk at 8 ready to work; you weren’t stumbling through the door at 9.  A lot of young people don’t get that, and then wonder why they are having such a tough time getting jobs.  It’s not just because of the economy – there is simply a lack of respect for young adults in the business world today because they lack commitment, work ethic, diligence, focus, and pride in what they do.

In addition, advances in technology have come at the cost of reducing many people’s effectiveness.   Between the TV, Facebook, and the latest Blackberrys and iPads, technology is providing people with constant distractions.  And with more lazy, unmotivated people sitting around drooling into screens, it’s no wonder that the procrastination statistics keep going up. 

Another contributing factor is that there isn’t a whole lot of parenting going on anymore.  Fewer and fewer kids are spending time with Mommy and Daddy at the dinner table discussing their day.  Chalk it up to divorce or no parent staying at home, but the outcome is the same: kids get away with murder and there’s no hell to pay.  Parents are failing to teach their kids about obligations and responsibilities.  A hundred years ago, kids got up at 5 a.m. and did a whole heck of a lot of stuff before they went to school.  Nowadays, I have parents calling me up complaining about how they can’t get their kids to get dressed in the morning.  It’s ridiculous. 

As you can see, people are not born procrastinators; they are formed to be that way.  And sadly, when they become chronic procrastinators, the results can be dire.  They often experience financial failure or end up dying younger than they should because they don’t bother to go get tests.

If you have a problem with procrastination, here’s what to do:

People procrastinate for all kinds of reasons, but more often than not, I think procrastination is a kind of passive aggressive behavior: “Screw you!” “I don’t have to!” “I don’t want to!”  “I don’t feel like it!”  So, if you really want to change, stop being hostile and start acting like a responsible person.

Don’t overthink what you have to do or make things too complicated – just get started.  It’s funny how something you were initially dreading can all of sudden become easier once you start it.  If you want an example of this, just listen to some of the people who call in to my program.  They may start off extremely nervous, but once they start talking, all their hesitation goes away.   

If you feel overwhelmed by a big project, break it up into smaller chunks.  Start with the hardest part first and then take a step back.  You’ll likely find that once you’ve finished each smaller task, the bigger project isn’t as difficult as you feared.

If you don’t have the right skills to complete a project, do some research or call someone to help you.  YouTube, for example, has a million useful little videos of people explaining how to do all kinds of stuff.  I learned how to drill certain jewelry pieces I’ve worked on from watching YouTube videos.

If you don’t have the right tools, find out where you can buy or borrow them.

Set realistic goals.  What can you realistically do given your abilities?  Ask someone to help pace you.

If you’re easily distracted by clutter, your phone, or your friends, then block out time dedicated to working on what you need to get done.  I rarely have my cell phone on me.  It certainly frustrates a lot of people who want to get a hold of me at that precise moment, but when I want to sit and deal with something, I cut out the distractions.  One of the things you must do in life is prioritize.  Do what needs to be done first, not what you wish to do.  Always remind yourself of what the highest priority is.
 
If you are a perfectionist (as I tend to be), you need to learn to control your impulse to be perfect.  I remember reading about one culture which purposefully put one tiny mistake in everything they made.  I thought that was so clever – what you do doesn’t always have to be perfect to be an expression of you.

Lastly, if you are afraid of failing or taking responsibility, you need to remember that the greatest failure is sitting there like a lump of protoplasm and not trying.  Failing is an inevitable part of trying, but failing is not an endpoint – not trying is.  Failure is at least a step forward toward success.

Getting yourself organized and putting a stop to your procrastination is pretty simple.  Set a reasonable goal, give yourself a time frame, dump the excuses, and figure out a way to hold yourself accountable. In short, just make it happen.

Why Are We So Mean Online?

Human beings have a tremendous capacity for evil, cruelty and meanness, and a lot of times, they consciously choose to be that way.  Even good people have mean moments.  They know exactly what they’re doing, but they do it anyway because being cruel makes them feel good.  As with anything in life, the higher up the ladder you are, the more haters are going to unload on you.  If you raise your head above the crowd, somebody’s going to come around with a sword and even you out.    

One of the most prevalent examples of this is seen in how people talk to each other online.  People use the Internet as a place where they can spew their vitriol, show their muscle, and have momentary feelings of power and superiority.  They check every five minutes to see how many people “like” them or how many “friends” they have.  Then, they vent their frustrations and post mean comments to each other because they are jealous about what they see other people accomplishing.  A lot of them want to believe they’re special.  If anyone – a friend, neighbor, or family member – criticizes them or says otherwise, their egos get deflated and they attack.

But why are people so nasty online in particular?

One of the main reasons is that their faces can’t be seen.  A social interaction on the Internet is not 1 percent as intimate and fulfilling as interacting in person, and therefore, many people hide there.  It’s easy.  Looking somebody square in the eye and saying something mean is a lot harder to do.  It takes a very particular kind of person to be able to do that without turning red.  In general, when you’re making eye contact, it’s tougher to be your most base self. 

Another explanation for why people are so cruel to each other online is because they are bored.  When you spend a ridiculous amount of hours just browsing and surfing the web, eventually you’re going to need some drama or stimulation. So, hey, why not randomly attack somebody and see if you can get a rise out of them?

If you find yourself getting caught up in someone else’s mean behavior online, my solution is simple: get a life!   Do you seriously think it’s useful to waste your life spending hours on the Internet?!  The Internet is not a life – it’s instead of life. 

I think our ability to use the Internet for information and important communication is an amazing technological feat.  However, just like having one glass of wine after dinner is fine but getting fall-down drunk is not, the way you use the Internet matters.  The big problem is that it’s being used for terrorism, bullying, and destroying people’s reputations, not productivity.

Can You Not Live Without Your Cell Phone?

I recently went to go see a movie (something I very rarely do), and I didn’t bring my cell phone in with me.  I then went to lunch, and again, left my phone in the car.  For some reason, this freaked people out.

My friend: “Where’s your cell phone?”
Me: “In the car.” 
My friend: “Why don’t you have it with you?” 
Me: “Because I’m having lunch. I want to relax.”

My cell phone is even off now as I’m sitting here in my office.   I don’t understand why so many of you folks can’t do without them.  According to a survey, more than half of Americans would rather give up chocolate, alcohol and/or caffeine than their cell phone.   A third of you would rather give up sex.  Over 20 percent of you would do without your toothbrush, and if you’re an iPhone user, that percentage doubles (well, I suppose it is good you’re talking into a phone because nobody’s going to want to smell your breath!).  In addition, 21 percent of you would go without shoes before separating from your cell phone.  Two-thirds of you even sleep with your phone by your side. 

When it comes to being able to access the Internet, the insanity level is the same.  Forty percent of you feel lonely and 53 percent of you feel deprived if you can’t get on the Internet.  I guess if you live your life through Facebook rather than face-to-face, that makes sense.  One participant in the survey said that unplugging was akin to having their hands chopped off.  Another stated, “The emptiness overwhelmed me,” and yet another described feeling incomplete.

I can only say one thing: This is scary!

I remember in one of the original Star Trek episodes, there was this group of people who had ceased being corporeal.   They were essentially just thought waves, and they had no need for sex or farming.  All interpersonal interaction was gone.  It was very interesting to them to see how humans interacted with each other because they had bodies.   This is what we’re becoming.  A lot of you see technology as a way to keep in touch, but in my opinion, you are all becoming more and more distant.  You are only engaged in virtual relationships as opposed to real connections. 

Here are a couple little things you can do to unplug and start having healthier relationships:

Schedule some periods of time where you are inaccessible and nobody can reach you.  No texts, no emails…nothing.   Nobody can access you.  You can even make them short at first.  You’ll probably feel anxious and maybe even depressed from being disconnected, but guess what?  Your life will not implode!  It’ll be good for you – just think of all the time you could be spending seeing a friend or doing a hobby while you’re not plugged in.

Pick a day where you don’t touch your email or your cell phone.  Just one day.  It could be Saturday, Sunday, your “day of rest,” Shabbos…whatever.  Pick a day.

Or, if you think that’s impossible, how about this?  Set intervals for when you check your email, or don’t check your email before a certain time.  You can use an autoresponder explaining that you can be reached any time on your cell phone.  At least your cell phone is voice-to-voice.
 
Try to get some humanity back in your life. 

Do you crave your technology?  Take this quiz.  If you can’t get to the end of it without texting, you probably already know your diagnosis.

Are We Becoming Robots?

When I was a kid, there was a Twilight Zone episode depicting a futuristic society with no jails.  Instead, if people did bad things, they were put on another planet all by themselves.  One of these inmates, who was very lonely, was pitied by one of his captors and was given a huge box.  Inside the box was an extremely lifelike female robot.  It displayed sympathy, compassion, love, fear, and other human emotions.  At first, he was disgusted: “I’m not going to have sex with a machine,” “I’m not going to develop a relationship with a machine,” “I’m not going to let a machine touch me,” etc.  However, as the years passed, he managed to get over his feelings of repulsion and formed a relationship with the robot.  But then, he received word that he had been pardoned and could go home.  He went to go grab the robot, but the pardoner said he couldn’t bring her with him.  The man broke down in a screaming fit because, in his mind, she was human.  He was willing to stay on the planet with her even though she wasn’t real.

I think that episode is very relevant today because that’s the direction we keep moving.  I read an article a while back about how Japanese scientists have been working on robots for years to be like butlers or maids and provide child care in the home.  If it isn’t already bad enough that we have mothers who don’t mother their own children, just imagine what it will be like in the future when there are machines that will watch your kids for no pay? 

The development of the human brain deeply and profoundly requires human interaction.  This is why in preemie wards at hospitals there are always people next to the babies, touching and holding them.  Human beings require connectedness to develop the ability to love and show compassion, and I think we’re already on the road to losing our sense of humanity.

I read another shocking article discussing the development of “emotional phones,” which simulate hand-holding, breathing, and kissing:

“The next generation of phones could hold your hand, breathe on your neck and maybe even kiss your cheek.  In pursuit of more ‘emotional’ and ‘sensory’ phones, a designer at the Berlin University of the Arts showed off three prototypes at the TEDxBerlin conference…that can recreate those sensations.

One phone includes force sensors and a strap that goes around a hand that can tighten, simulating a squeeze, when a friend grips their own phone. Similarly, the breathing prototype picks up air movements on one phone and translates that into a jet of air on the other (not so good for heavy breathers).

The most alarming (and creepy) prototype is the kissing simulator, which involves a moisture sensor on the smoocher’s phone and a motorized ‘wet sponge pushing against a membrane’ on the receiver’s phone, according to Fabian Hemmert, the designer. The sensor can differentiate between a peck on the cheek and a full on sloppy kiss — moving the wet sponge to simulate accordingly.”

Is this intimacy!?  It’s like masturbating to a vibrator without ever having any kind of love relationship. 

I think texting is already a step away from intimacy.  The idea that a few ill-spelled words are meaningful discourse is frightening.  Technology is something that is simply taking over our lives.  I get scared seeing people walking around with their thumbs moving and ignoring the world around them, or texting while they’re sitting with a group of people at dinner.  I’m sure they’re thinking, “I have to answer this!  I have to contact this person immediately!,” but it’s not really contact at all.  It’s barely communication.   

We’ve known about the negative effects of technology on kids for years.  For example, it’s pretty obvious to everyone that it’s not good for kids to sit around all day and watch TV.  The Associated Press reported, “The cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is in hot water from a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds…Previous research has linked TV-watching with long-term attention problems in children, but the new study suggests more immediate problems can occur after very little exposure – results that parents of young kids should be alert to…”

If you put this all together, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the more you are invested in these abrupt spurts of connectivity with the world, the less you are going to be able to relate eye-to-eye with other human beings.