Why Do We Procrastinate?
Everyone has been in the situation where you have to get something done, but then you convince yourself to put it off, even if you had the time to do it right in that moment. Procrastination is just something that we have a tendency to do, but where did this tendency come from? Why are our brains more inclined to do something later than now?
The Reason Behind Slacking Off
The reason lies in the distinction that we each place upon our present selves and our future selves. In our minds, we tend to value our present self more than our future self, and with this comes the desire to enjoy immediate rewards that benefit our present self. Of course, those immediate rewards can leave our future self overloaded with work or dealing with a whole mess of problems due to our present self not considering the long-term consequences.
You can look back at any moment that you procrastinated and see the battle between your present and future self. Let’s say you had some work that you needed to finish but the deadline was a few days away, so you decide to procrastinate and relax instead. The immediate benefits may be that you could do something fun and enjoyable, but the long term cost is that you are stressed, pressed for time, and even have more work on your plate to finish when that deadline finally rolls around.
How To Combat Procrastination
If you want to break free of your procrastination habits, it may be difficult, but it is possible. The key to beating procrastination is to make your present self place more value on your future self so that you’re more inclined to make choices with long-term benefits. To achieve this, there are three options that help you, but they do require a high level of self-discipline.
Make Long-Term Behavior Have Immediate Rewards
While the actual long-term benefits of your choices are far off, you can come up with a way to reward yourself for making that choice. Whether it’s rewarding yourself by doing something you like (that doesn’t counteract the long term benefit of course), or even just visualizing yourself enjoying those benefits. Even the process of imagining your future self being better off because of your hard work in the moment can help you feel more immediate satisfaction. For example, after finishing your work today even if it’s due in a week, imagine yourself having a stress-free day later.
Create Immediate Consequences For Procrastinating
When we procrastinate, our present self usually doesn’t have to deal with any consequences. In order to convince ourselves to not procrastinate, we need to make it so that we realize the gravity of our choice in the moment. While it requires a lot of discipline, you need to set consequences that would deter you from procrastinating. Some examples would be making bets with yourself, like each day you put off your work, you put $20 in a jar. You can even bring friends or co-workers in for help, with them checking in on your progress and ensuring that you’re not slacking off.
Avoid Causes Of Procrastination
There are countless things that can distract us and prevent us from getting our work done. It’s up to you to try and remove yourself from situations or things that can be distracting so you can focus and work efficiently. Things like shutting off your phone or finding a quiet place to work will put you in a better environment that encourages work instead of procrastination
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