Procrastinating Too Much? Try the “Do I Really Care” Test

If you’re like me, procrastination is a problem. You’ve got work to do, but it’s too easy to do other things — read online, watch Netflix shows, scroll Twitter, Instagram or (god help you) Facebook.

It’s not you, really, it’s human nature. The mind goes to what’s easiest. And when you’ve got a phone in your hand or a computer in your face, it’s easier to avoid something than to confront it.

Lately, however, I’ve been beating procrastination. How? It’s simple, really. When I find myself drifting, I merely ask myself, mid-scroll or mid-watch or mid-read: “Do I really care?” I mean, seriously, do I.

Of course I want to know what Trump just tweeted. And the police department, I’m certain, has just broken that case I’ve been following for two weeks as if my livelihood depended on it. On Instagram, this person I don’t even know just did a thing, and I have to watch, like, comment.

But does any of it actually matter? Does it have any relevance in my life besides filling a space that exists only because I am avoiding something? Not really. Trump is going to Trump. The police will crack that case, or not crack that case, and no matter what they do won’t matter, because it’s not like I committed a crime.

And when I ask myself — Do I really care? — more often than not I find that I don’t. I can sufficiently close a tab, one of the hundreds on my phone or my desktop, and forget that the tab was ever even there. In fact, I recently switched phones and in the process lost about 200 open tabs. Two hundred! For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what those 200 tabs were. That was 200 things I was going to waste my time with, probably hours of my life. And for what — nothing!

So, I merely ask that you try it. When you find yourself drifting, staring aimlessly at some thing that previously you did not care about, but now suddenly do, pause momentarily and ask: Do I really care? If you can honestly say that you do, continue. I am not the person to judge whether you should or should not. But I think that if you ask, you will often find the answer is … no.

Then, thankfully, you can get back to what you were doing.

Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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