It is an epic battle that takes place every day. Will you do what you should do, or will you let your distractions overcome you? Granted, everybody needs some genuine get-nothing-done-and-do-nothing-important time in their lives. It’s a form of self-care that helps us recover. But, there is undoubtedly a difference between beneficial leisure time and harmful time-wasting.

For instance…

  • Did you need to binge eight episodes of that show you really don’t like when you were supposed to get groceries?
  • Was it a good idea to go down a random wormhole on TikTok for three hours instead of finishing that application for a leadership position?
  • Did you need to type words in response to your friends’ messages instead of typing words into the paper that is due tomorrow?

To stay true to your “why” or purpose, you need to build meaningful resistance to fend off time wasters. Author and emotional intelligence expert Harvey Deutschendorf recommends the following defensive maneuvers (

  • Schedule What You Will Do the Next Day the Night Before. Take care of minutiae (like picking out your clothes and packing your lunch) the night before, then vow to yourself that you will not succumb to the distractions of the Internet/social media before getting to your important tasks.
  • Start with the Hard Stuff. Your brain works best in the morning, so do the most difficult thing first.
  • Recognize and Fend Off Distractions and Time Wasters. Deutschendorf explains, “Real emergencies will come up and we have to deal with them. The majority of situations that do come up to distract us are not emergencies and do not require us to respond right away.”
  • Make Time for Energy Regeneration. Stand up and stretch, get your workout in, eat healthy. Prioritizing self-care helps you get stuff done.
  • Remind Yourself of Your Purpose and Goals. Put up visual cues like post-its and take a few minutes to visualize your goal and how you will achieve it. “The ‘why’ behind the goal is crucial as it will serve as a motivator,” as will any emotional connection to your task, asserted Deutschendorf.

So, ask yourself:

  • What are your top three distractions?
  • What will you do to manage them?
  • What is your “why” and how can you keep a focus on it?

SourceFast Company, 7/24/14

Find useful pieces like this one within our 10 Student Mental Health and Well-Being Workshops training guide.