Don't Delay

Understanding procrastination and how to achieve our goals

Facebook—a Whole New World of Wasting Time

If you're serious about procrastination—Facebook!

We've truly reached a new level of technological time wasting, and it's called Facebook. Talk about a study in procrastination!

So, study it we are. Jena Roy has begun this research with me at Carleton University. She conducted 3 studies for her honours thesis project this year. The first was a study of students' use of computer labs (no surprises here, lots of procrastination with Facebook). The second was a qualitative study involving interviews with students who use Facebook (we're trying to see Facebook through the eyes and words of the users). The third study was a questionnaire-based study exploring possible personality correlates of Facebook procrastination. We're still making sense of the data from the third study.

My focus for this entry is Study 2—the interviews. For now, all I want to do is share some quotes from the interview participants as captured in Jena's thesis. Read them and post your comments about Facebook and procrastination.

Interview Quotes Below
"I think it is a really big problem for me because I set aside time for a break period and it seems to get extended because of Facebook. I'll take a break and get absorbed into it, so my 15 minute break turns into an hour gone by and that is where it becomes a problem. Time flies on the Internet and it is not a cognitive process. I don't think about it."

"At first with Facebook you can spend hours on it, but eventually you really know that you are wasting your time. It is a real problem if you don't."

"I don't really have any desire or urge to use it now, it was more fun when I was procrastinating. I don't feel a need to go on the Internet when I am not procrastinating."

"You see a lot more people on Facebook during exams since they are already at the computer and it is easy to access and procrastinate."

"Facebook definitely interferes with my school work. If I see that there is a party planned I will look who is going and who had responded. And if someone has written on my girlfriend's wall, I will go and check those people out."

"It's all about whoever has the most wall posts, some people have over 2000 wall posts. They talk about things that are not important and that doesn't need to be said on there, but it makes them look like they have a life."

"I won't give up social opportunities to use Facebook, but I will have cravings and urges to check it after a night out, like an addiction. I have even taken time away from hanging out with people to go check my account, and it is always in the back of my mind."

"I know people who have had to get their roommate to delete their profile for them because they were so addicted that they could not get any studying done. Some times I think people just say they are addicted to Facebook to seem cool and get attention, it is a ridiculous thing to be addicted to."

So . . . what's going on with Facebook and procrastination? Is it just something to use when you're procrastinating (as noted by one interviewee above), or is it a procrastination-trap, a slate of tools destined to get you addicted as reflected in the final couple of quotes? Your thoughts would be very much appreciated!

 

Timothy A. Pychyl, Ph.D., is an associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, where he specializes in the study of procrastination.

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