Procrastination consumes billions of hours of otherwise-productive work every year. If there was a way to even reclaim a tiny portion of this lost time and direct it toward useful pursuits, society would be immeasurably improved.
The specific issue:
In particular, now that Internet access is required for many types of legitimate work, it can be difficult to maintain focus on (say) doing one’s taxes when there are thousands of un-viewed cat videos staring directly at you from your browser’s “Unwatched Cat Videos” tab.
There are many solutions that involve limiting access to specific web sites, but these most effective method for avoiding procrastination in this manner may be classic “negative reinforcement.”
In this specific plan, a household animal will be trained to recognize the difference between legitimate computer usage and procrastination (Figure 1).
Fig 1: Filling out spreadsheets or tax forms (left) would count as legitimate computer usage. This is visually obviously distinct from wasting time on a video clip site (right). Even the most technically un-savvy dog or cat could be trained to discern when a user is watching a video on the computer.
Next, after the household animal (potentially a dog or cat, or perhaps a bird that could follow the user around at all times, parrot-on-shoulder-style) has been trained to identify legitimate computer usage vs procrastination, the animal will be trained to harass the procrastinator in some way whenever they procrastinate. Generally, this would presumably involve biting, stinging, or beak-ing, but the universe of possibilities is nearly endless.
Fig 2: This angry bird could peck the computer user whenever procrastination is detected.
Fig 3: For severe cases of procrastination, nature’s deadliest animal could be employed to correct the sub-optimal behavior.
PROS: An interesting reversal of the usual meaning of “animal cruelty” may help save our nation from Internet-related productivity loss.
CONS: May result in a “Planet of the Apes”-like scenario in which we regret arming animals and giving them dominion over us. Whoops!