• Going down a rabbit hole is just procrastination in disguise
  • Identify what makes you avoid tasks so that you can stay on track
  • Complete work tasks and then satisfy your curiosity in your free time
It’s Monday afternoon, the peak of work activities, and you’re at your desk reading an article showing the then and now pictures of “The Office” cast. I mean, who knew Jim could get so ripped and even go on to direct a blockbuster horror series that...

Wait, what?

It’s Monday friggin’ afternoon. And you’re diving deep into all things related to The Office on the internet and discovering all sorts of things that you never knew about the show and its cast.

You come up for air and realize that you just wasted two hours researching useless bullshit trivia about a TV show.

How’d you even get there?!

Oh yeah - you were researching meeting venues for an upcoming corporate event which led to a clickbait headline of great corporate sitcoms and then you just had to read about the current lives of the cast of The Office.

And then two hours later you’re in panic mode because you needed to get all the venue information to your manager for the meeting in five minutes.

Now, you’re scrambling to make calls and confirm things.

Yep, you just went down a fucking rabbit hole.

What’s A Rabbit Hole Anyway?

If you thought of Alice In Wonderland and her rather strange ass journey down a rabbit hole - then you thought right.

The term became popularized by Lewis Caroll’s “Alice in Wonderland” where Alice finds the weirdest things to ever happen to a human being during her crazy trip down the rabbit hole.

When she follows the white rabbit down into the hole, she enters an alternate universe where all sorts of strange and absurd things happen as if they’re normal. It’s like a psychedelic experience.
Since then, the term has evolved from describing a state of confusion and strangeness to being wound up somewhere, often by accident and usually as a result of cyberloafing.

With today’s all-encompassing internet with deep archives and endless links, you can get lost in a sea of information, hopping from one topic to another or in this case, deep down a single area of curiosity.

The internet is the ultimate be-all, end-all of rabbit holes. It’s an infinitely large rabbit hole filled with other rabbit holes. It goes on forever.

Once you’re hooked, your attention is locked on and your willpower to get out of the rabbit hole and back to work is gone.

Why Are Rabbit Holes So Attractive?

Rabbit holes are particularly enticing because they’re born out of curiosity on a topic that is somewhat related to what you’re working on. Sometimes, just barely so.

You were originally checking meeting sites and ended up in “The Office” because you were curious about one thing which led to another.

You see, the web is all about rabbit holes and every media company online is trying their best to keep you as long as they can on their websites or apps.

It’s why you can’t seem to leave Instagram or Facebook even after you click a link - the apps are built to keep you in.

It’s why you feel like you’re missing out on a lot of things because of those sweetly worded notifications from your apps.

It’s why you can’t stop buying stupid shit you don’t need because you keep seeing ads everywhere for it.

It’s also a super-easy way to procrastinate. And procrastination pays off instantly.

Going Down The Rabbit Hole Is Just Procrastination In Disguise

Procrastination is not anything new. According to this study by the University of Calgary, procrastination appeared in ancient religious texts and even in early Roman and Greek military documents.

Maybe Brutus was actually a procrastinator and kept delaying his betrayal of Julius. Who knows?

But in essence, going down a rabbit hole is still procrastination because it prevents you from doing the task or activity that you should be doing at that moment.

The only difference is that you falsely justify it because you’re satisfying your curiosity on a particular subject or topic that is just a few degrees away from what you really need to do.

Yes, you got to find out that “The Office” may have a reboot or that the Kardashians may be appearing at a major corporate event.

All of these are (mostly) unimportant information but they grab your curiosity and prevent you from doing what you’re supposed to do - which on a Monday afternoon means working.

What ends up happening is that you get crushed by the effects of procrastination and end up stressing yourself out.

Tips To Stop Going Down The Rabbit Hole

It’s hard to not go down a rabbit hole, we know.

All it takes is just one click and BAM! You’re sucked in.

We understand that your friend who had a trip to the Bahamas just got on Facebook live and it will only take two minutes tops.

But we also know that you’re going to browse some of the things they talked about which will just push you down a different rabbit hole.

So here are ways to stop being an Alice.

1) Recognize And Address It

You have to understand why you’re getting into these rabbit holes in the first place.

It’s totally likely that some happen by accident and you’ve promised yourself that you’ll get back to work (which could take some time). But it’s also likely that you’re trying to avoid work and willingly seek to lose yourself in the ocean that is the internet.

Find out what causes this.

Are you afraid of the work?

Do you want it to be perfect?

Do you feel it’s too big for just you?

Is it the type of task?

Understand this and then forgive yourself for your past journeys into different rabbit holes. This is because if you continue to beat yourself up about it, you’re more likely to fall into more rabbit holes and procrastinate more.

According to this research from the Personality and Individual Differences Journal, the results showed that people who practice self-forgiveness after procrastinating reduced the tendency for future procrastination.

Who said forgiveness had to be for other people? Forgive yourself first!

2) Have A To-Do List

It’s really so easy for you to forget yourself and seek out a rabbit hole when you don’t have a clear list of what to do and even when to do them.

An important aspect of having a to-do list is prioritization because everything can’t be number one.

You see, rabbit holes don’t necessarily have to be all about the internet. You could fall down a rabbit hole simply by doing unnecessary tasks when the important ones are still not done yet.

This is called bullshit shallow work.

For example, continually checking your emails when you should be finishing up a PowerPoint presentation. Checking your emails is important but it’s not urgent and it’s not as important as the presentation that is due tomorrow.

That’s why we have the perfect solution: the Eisenhower matrix.

The 34th president of the United States was responsible for so many important things felt all over the world and one of his simplest inventions, but not any less powerful than others, was this matrix.

It essentially enables you to know which tasks to work on right now, schedule for later, delegate, or eliminate entirely.

3) Do One Task At A Time

One of the reasons a lot of us fall into rabbit holes and procrastinate is because of the overwhelming feeling of doing multiple tasks all at once.

It could feel like this:

See task.


See task again.

Feel overwhelmed.

Distract yourself with other things to feel better.

Fall into a rabbit hole.

Resurface from the rabbit hole a few hours later right before a deadline.

Have a massive panic attack.

Try to throw a few things together.

Submit subpar work even though you could do better.

Dread further projects because of this experience.

Feel overwhelmed.

Rinse and Repeat.

A great way to prevent that overwhelming feeling is to just take a single task and just do that one task and nothing else.

You can do more with less stress by mono-tasking instead of spreading yourself thin across multiple things simultaneously.

This is because completing one task at a time will keep the momentum going and give you the encouragement to do more. Every time a task is done, you get a mini hit of dopamine satisfaction which triggers you to do it again.

It creates a cycle of positivity to get shit done.

4) Reward Yourself After Each Work Session

Just like self-forgiveness can make you prone to procrastinate less in the future, rewarding yourself makes you look forward to tasks.

It may be hard to immediately cut down on some of the habits you developed in the rabbit hole. A good way to stop this habit is to take it step by step.

You could reward yourself with five minutes of The Office clips once you finish 25 minutes of an important project. Or, do it by specific tasks like completing the excel analysis, finishing the weekly report or summarizing meeting notes, etc.

What you will find is that completing a task or project on time after a series of procrastination bouts becomes a reward itself. No movie clip could ever give you the same exhilaration. Trust us.

5) Work Alongside Hyper-Productive People

You remember that super annoying teacher from grade school who kept warning you with idioms such as “birds of the same feather flock together” and “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are.”

Well, they were right.

Working alongside or being surrounded by productive people helps keep your productivity up. It just rubs off on you.

When you’re cubicle neighbors are in the zone and banging on their keyboards, it makes you wanna do the same. It’s kinda like informal work peer pressure to stay focused and knock out tasks.

If not for anything, the healthy competition will motivate you to stay on track. No way are you slacking off when you and Bob are both gunning for that open position. You can do it just as much and as well as he can!

6) Put Goals In Your Face To Motivate Yourself

We’re all here for a reason. And you certainly have a reason for being at work.

Creating a better life for your family?

Taking care of your aging parents?

Business School?

A nice vacation with your S/O?

College for the kids?

Saving to retire early?

What is it?

Identify it, if you haven’t already, and put up a memento or a photographic goal where it’ll be in your face daily. Make it a visual goal that you can see every damn day. Optimize your workspace around that so there’s no avoiding it.

Nothing yanks you out from a rabbit hole harder than seeing a picture of your kids and how a promotion will give you enough to save for their college funds or to make better career moves that will.

7) Make It Harder On Yourself To Slack Off

While this may seem excruciating, it’s for your own good, we promise. It’s like eating more veggies and exercising daily.

Do this - put yourself in situations where you won’t be able to slack off and cyberloaf.

You can sit at the closest desk to your boss’ office, position your desk monitor to face foot traffic, turn all your notifications off or delete or freeze your rabbit hole-prone apps.

Or, lock your phone in your purse and then stash your purse in a safe place in your work area.

You can set this to as many varying degrees of difficulty as you can. The harder, the better. The more obstacles you create for yourself to slack off the better your chances will be to stay focused.

8) Get An Accountability Partner To Check In On You

Your office buddy doesn’t need to be there only for gossip. They should be able to pull you out from your rabbit hole and keep you accountable for getting shit done.

However, we understand that it is not always easy going to a colleague or your work BFF. There's every chance they could have dug themselves an even bigger rabbit hole than you.

You could always ask your peer mentor to keep you in check. They’re usually someone who is the epitome of productivity and cares enough about you to help in your growth.

There’s no better way to stay on track when someone is on your back and keeping an eye on what you’re doing, or not doing in this case.

9) Have A De-stress Routine

We get that sometimes, you fall into or look for a rabbit hole because you need something to relax. But, it’s only good at the right times.

Have a dedicated routine that you can always rely on to relax you. It’s a reliable way to manage work stress the right way.

A long bath with some good homemade food is not a bad start.

You can always throw on other things here and there. A full body massage, a slow wine meditation or a simple walk in nature are all good options too.

Once you have this, you definitely don’t need to look to the internet to de-stress and you can’t blame the internet anymore. It really helps you to identify and address the problem as well.

Bye Wonderland, Hello Reality!

It’s Friday Morning and you have two major deadlines today before you can enjoy the weekend. They are so important that you may need to come into the office on Saturday if you can’t complete them today - that’s if it’s not late by then.

So you start to complete them but then you remember you have some weekend plans with your friends.

Should you check on them to know how they're doing?

No one has even texted you - what if something went wrong?

What about the book you ordered from Amazon for the trip? You had it shipped to work and it’s supposed to arrive today. What if something happened?

As you’re about to check your phone, you remember that you switched off your notifications and froze your distracting apps. You did this to yourself knowing that you had to be uber-productive today.

As you’re about to complain, your eyes land on a picture of your family on your desk and how this project can put you in the spotlight and really position you well for that promotion.

Everything is in perspective now.

You get back in the zone and bang out all the work and get it all done in time.

This is your new world.

Alice can have her rabbit hole and wonderland.

You’re staying in reality and kicking ass.

Feel Better,

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