How To Stop Procrastinating For Good


Let's face it, you're likely reading this article in an effort to avoid starting or completing some other task(s). But the clock is ticking, so why can't you seem to stop?

Though the psychological causes are still debated, there's a human tendency to over or underestimate the value of a reward based on its temporal proximity. This is often referred to as temporal discounting. For example, if you were offered $100 today or $110 in a month, most people would take the hundred and run. But what if, instead, you were offered $100 in a year or $110 in a year and one month? Suddenly you might say to yourself, "if I can wait a year I can wait the extra month." But the time and value difference are the exact same in each example. It turns out that human motivation is highly influenced by how imminent the reward is perceived to be. Meaning, the further away the reward is the more you discount its value. This is often referred to as present bias or hyperbolic discounting. So being on Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, or YouTube is more rewarding than a perfect score on your test. Until temporal proximity increases the value of a good mark on your test, you're likely to just resort to cramming the night before instead of preparing days to weeks ahead of time.

It doesn't help that every time something enjoyable happens you get a dose of dopamine, which modifies the neurons in your brain making you more likely to repeat the behavior. The problem is that video games or browsing the Internet provides many small, quick and continuous rewards unlike your term essay, which is a one-time future reward.

How to Overcome Procrastination

So the main question remains: How can you overcome the urge to be lazy? Unfortunately, there isn't just one solution, but there are a few tactics that can trick you into being more productive. Like rewarding yourself in intervals with a snack, the internet, or another enjoyable activity. The Pomodoro Technique makes use of a timer. The idea is that you work for 25 minutes straight and then give yourself the reward of a 5-minute break. Then start the working clock again but gradually increasing the amount of work time you put in each time. By doing this, you will improve your ability to get more done.

It's been said that procrastinating now will only make you procrastinate later as well. It's been shown that creating a self-imposed costly deadline is an effective way to manage your working habits. Another tip is to try and enjoy the process of achieving something instead of thinking only thinking about the hours of work you'll endure trying to get it all done. You can even make a list of reasons why you want to complete the task, which can help reinforce it as a goal. Oftentimes, procrastination is a symptom, not a cause. The power of being properly motivated can greatly reduce the temptation to get off track and be lazy.

Mitch Moffit