Why We Procrastinate And What We Can Do About It
Prioritizing the Present Over the Future
You can’t wait until tomorrow or next week to break the cycle of procrastination. You must do it right now. We learned previously that our brains reward us with cooperation when we set ourselves up for an immediate reward.
Here are 4 ways to put “now” to work on vanquishing procrastination.
Immediate Cause And Effect
Bring a future reward to the present with what psychologists call “temptation bundling.” Katy Milkman at the University of Pennsylvania has been at the forefront of this process.
She suggests that you bundle a behavior with a long-term reward with something that feels good right now. It’s an easy process. Do something you love while you do something that usually causes you to procrastinate.
Listen to your most favorite music while you exercise.
Have that afternoon cup of pick-me-up coffee while you plow through backlogged emails.
Go to your favorite lunch spot for a difficult conversation with a friend or loved one.
Turn Up The Heat
You’ll push past procrastination faster if you accelerate the consequences. The easiest way to do this is to involve others. Are you procrastinating about exercising? Commit to a gym meeting with a friend. The consequences of skipping out become immediate.
Money is a powerful motivator. Make a bet with a group of people. Anyone who doesn’t stick to their goal must donate to a charity. Really want to put some teeth into it? If you have to shell out to the charity, make it one you usually would not support.
Devices And Desires
Psychologists call it a “commitment device.” It’s a way to prevent procrastination by designing your future actions.
Put a stop to future eating habits by buying or preparing food in individual servings.
Skip time wasted on your smartphone or computer by deleting social media apps – or turning off notifications to help control your time on them.
Build a savings habit by setting up an automatic deduction to savings each payday.
Make It A No-Brainer
Procrastination thrives on the things that prevent you from getting started. Reduce the friction and you’ll get rid of procrastination. What are some short, easy steps you can put in place?
Remember that once you start doing something, it’s easier to continue. Does going to the gym for a workout never happen because of all the things you have to do to prepare? Pack your gym bag and stash it in the car. All that preparation is reduced to a decision to go and exercise. That’s a no-brainer.
The Power Of Momentum
Procrastination melts in the face of forward movement, and the momentum can be baby steps. Those small measures of progress are easier to maintain, too. You’ll complete things faster, which creates a foundation of measurable productivity. You couldn’t ask for a better habit to develop.
Stay tuned for part 3 in this series, where we’ll explore a key habit that always beats procrastination.