Procrastination: This word comes from the Latin “procrastinare”, which translates in to: pro-, ‘forward’, and suffix -crastinus, ’till next day’ from cras,) In other words, “meh ~ mañana…”
You know what procrastination means. In pleasant terms it is the avoidance of completing a task that needs to be accomplished; instead, finding other meaningless things to do and justifying the reason.
Who are you fooling, pal?
In more realistic and honest terms it is otherwise referred to as laziness, can’t -be-flipping-botheredness and total lack of discipline.
“Have a word with yourself”
- Admit that you’re procrastinating and recognise when it occurs.
- Figure out why you’re procrastinating.This can be down to you and/ or the task awaiting completion.
- Learn anti-procrastination skills and strategies.
I’m an eleventh hour kind of person
Of course you are. That’s because you don’t want to get your legs slapped for not delivering and in a final fit of panic, churn out the goods. After which, you will declare poetically that this is how you work best. Hmmm…
Let’s have a look at the psychological research on this beast:
There is a phenomenon called “time inconsistency” This refers to the tendency of the human brain to value immediate rewards more highly than future rewards. Interesting, eh? Instant gratification winning over tomorrows possibilities. Who’d have thought?
Naturally, you want things now rather than getting them next week, next month or in a years time. Where’s the fun in that?
The devil and the angel
When you set goals for yourself, you are making future plans. Your future self, who we are going to call “Angel”, is fine with this because it can imagine the reward and self-esteem that comes with those results. If you want to lose weight it’s easy to visualise yourself as a dapper, buff and pretty hot specimen dressed in the finest haute couture and how this will be achieved. However, you can’t do that whilst supping on a loaded cocktail and eating a bag of crisps.Trust me, I’ve tried and it’s an epic fail.
Similarly, if you want to learn something new or complete a lengthy assignment, it is easy for your angel to envision this and how great you’re going to feel about it at completion. Imagining our future all glowing and rosy with us pirouetting our perfection in the middle of it, is a breeze. Recognising these long term goals and benefits makes sense to your angel because the rewards are obvious.
However, whilst your angel continues to set worthy goals, only your present, in the now, self ~who we will refer to as “Devil” ~ is able to action them. Oops…
Actioning a journey starts in the here and now and your devil is tyrant and governor. Researchers have discovered that the devilish present self really, really likes instant pleasure and can’t be doing with waiting for long-term payoff.
How do we satisfy the devil to become an angel?
Lead him into temptation and deliver him from evil. You have to give him tidbits in order to make the benefits of long-term choices more immediate; in turn, it then becomes easier to avoid procrastination.
One of the smartest ways to bring future rewards into the present moment is using a strategy called temptation bundling.
Temptation bundling is a concept that came out of behavioural economics research at The University of Pennsylvania.
This means coupling a feel good action with a long term goal action. For example:
- Only listen to your favourite music or audio book whilst running for fitness.
- Get your must have mocha-chocca-frappa-cinno deluxe only when dealing with endless, overdue emails.
- Only watch your favourite TV show or film when doing mundane housework.
- Eat at your favourite restaurant when you have to meet with difficult clients.
You get the gist. By coupling a long term action that needs attention with something you enjoy, you will sate both the devil and the angel. And bringing something you enjoy to an activity will help reinforce a more positive attitude.
Show some commitment
Another one from the psychologists used to overcome procrastination is called a “commitment device.” Commitment devices can help you stop procrastinating by sorting out your future actions ahead of time.
For example, you can help your diet by purchasing or making food in one size portions that are set up for the week.
You can stop wasting time on your phone or tablet by deleting apps that sidetrack you or have you surfing social media for hours in demented distraction.
Use software that blacks out your computer screen whilst working and disable sounds so you are not tempted by notifications.
Put things in place to help you focus on your tasks and make them easier to accomplish.
You’ve got 2- minutes!
The guilt, shame, and stress that you feel while procrastinating are far worse than the effort and energy you have to put into working.
The issue isn’t doing, it’s actually starting.
Here’s where the 2-minute rule comes in: The idea is that when you start a new habit it should take less than two minutes to do. This makes it as easy as possible to get started and the momentum is likely to carry you further into the task after you begin. Once you start doing something, it’s easier to continue.
The 2–minute rule isn’t overwhelming and therefore spurs action and beats procrastination. How can you not deal with a 2 minute exercise?
Forming these micro habits makes the journey easier and the end goal achievable.
Achievement = Reward = Positive Emotion = Motivation.
Baby steps. A continuum of small, easily-to-accomplish tasks will take you effortlessly toward your long term ideals. And the faster you go, the louder you scream – with rapturous joy and positivity at your productiveness. Goodbye procrastination ~ You lose!
Author, Writer, Storyteller
Jules has an eclectic and colourful history creating stories, writing, articles, blogs, and art philosophy.