Procrastination is when you deliberately seek out distractions to avoid doing something.
It might not even be something you dislike. The reasons for procrastinating are many and varied.
Procrastination is an impulse; it’s deciding to eat healthily and buying salad for lunch then buying chocolate at the checkout.
It’s about planning to start jogging or writing a book and then always choosing to do something else that has a more immediate payoff.
It is about choosing to take the sure thing in the present over some far off prospect of reward in the future (this is known in economics as hyperbolic discounting).
The notion of discounting future rewards relative to immediate pleasure has a long history. People generally want rewards sooner rather than later. Thus, options that delay a reward appear less attractive and people discount them.
Although almost everyone has problems with procrastination, those who recognize and admit it is happening are in a better position to utilize available tools for pre-commitment and by doing so, help themselves overcome it.
To defeat yourself at procrastination think about the “you” who sits there now reading or listening to this and the “you” sometime in the future who will be influenced by a different set of ideas and desires.
The “now-you” may see the logical costs and rewards at stake when it comes to choosing calling a client instead of answering emails, eating the salad instead of the chocolate, writing the article instead of watching YouTube.
However, the trick is to accept that the “now-you” will not be the person facing those choices, it will be the “future-you” – a person who can’t be trusted. “Future-you” will give in, and then you’ll go back to being “now-you” and feel weak and ashamed.
The only solution is for you to be aware of what is happening and enable “now-you” to trick “future-you” into doing what is right.
People who get this concept use programs like Freedom, which disables Internet access on a computer for up to eight hours. This means that when you set aside time to make sales calls, write an article or read a book, “now-you” makes the decision to make it impossible for “future-you” to sabotage your work.
People who think about thinking, about states of mind, about set and setting, can get things done, not because they have more will power or more drive, but because they know productivity is a game of cat and mouse where we battle with a primal human predilection for pleasure and novelty. Your effort is better spent outsmarting yourself than making empty promises through plugging dates into a calendar or setting deadlines you know you won’t meet.
You may not know why you procrastinate but that matters less than catching yourself and stopping it.
Everyone has some things they put off and others that they take in their stride. Some people assert that they work better to a deadline but unless you’ve compared work that you have taken time over, and had a chance to review, to work that you’ve dashed off at the last minute it’s hard to know if this is true or just another excuse.
If you’re putting off starting or completing a job in favour of a chat with a friend, making a cup of coffee or taking the dog for a walk, there is no time management system in the world that will help you. You need to figure out your own motivation first.
Do you do things more readily when there is a reward involved – like getting paid or getting praised or are you more likely to work to avoid a punishment – like missing paying your bills or being criticised?
There are two distinct types of people – those who move towards pleasure and those who move to avoid pain. Working out which you are will help you to devise your own strategy for getting over the problem of procrastination.
Need help to overcome procrastination and get more things done? Contact me now and I’ll show you how its done!