The clock is ticking on a Friday afternoon. You're rushing to finish a project before the deadline, secretly cursing yourself for not starting it earlier.
Does this ring a bell? If that's the case, you're not alone! It sounds like you might be a procrastinator 👀
What is procrastination? 🤔
Procrastination has been practiced by humans for generations. So much so that some of the ancient Greek philosophers, specifically Socrates and Aristotle, coined the term Akrasia to describe this behavior.
The state of akrasia is when you behave against your better judgment. It's when you do one thing when you know you should be doing something else. Akrasia can be loosely interpreted as procrastination or a lack of self-control.
The act of delaying or postponing a task, or group of tasks, is a more modern meaning. So, whether you call it procrastination, akrasia, or something else, it's the force that keeps you from accomplishing your goals.
Procrastination is one of the most significant barriers 🚩 to getting up, making the proper decisions, and living the life you have imagined.
Sometimes, our opportunities seem to be right in front of us, yet somehow they're still out of reach. Procrastination could be to blame.
Why do we procrastinate? 🤷🏻
Okay, definitions are wonderful, but why do we postpone in the first place? What is it about the human brain that causes us to avoid doing the things we know we should?
We're going to use this moment to infuse some science into this discussion. A phenomenon known as "temporal inconsistency" has been discovered in the field of behavioral psychology 🧠.
The tendency of the human brain to prefer present rewards over future rewards is known as time inconsistency.
Imagine you have two selves: your “Present Self” and your “Future Self”. This is the best approach to grasp this concept.
Setting goals, such as losing weight, is essentially establishing plans for your “Future Self." You're imagining how you'd look and feel if you lost a few pounds in the future 🔮.
That is, you are setting future goals, while your “Present Self” can only take small steps toward achieving them.
Well, we know that the “Present Self” really likes instant gratification 🔜, not long-term reward.
As a result, the present and future are frequently at odds. The “Future Self”, for example, desires to be slender and fit, yet the “Present Self” desires ice cream. Sure, everyone understands that you should eat healthily today to prevent becoming overweight in ten years. However, long-term repercussions 📍, such as a higher risk of diabetes or heart failure, are still years away.
You see where we're going with this, right? ☝🏻
You can't rely on long-term consequences and rewards to motivate the "Present Self". Instead, you must find a way to translate future rewards into the present moment.
This is exactly what happens when we finally put procrastination behind us and take action.
How to stop procrastinating ✋🏻
Make the rewards of taking action more immediate 🏆
It will be easier to avoid procrastination if you find a way to make the long-term benefits of your choices more immediate. A strategy known as temptation bundling is one of the best ways to bring future rewards into the present moment.
In a nutshell, the strategy suggests that you combine long-term behavior that is good for you with short-term behavior that is good for you.
Listen to music or podcasts you enjoy while you exercise, as one example of a temptation bundling.
Make the consequences of procrastination more immediate 🔜
There are a variety of tactics you can use to push yourself to pay the price of procrastination sooner rather than later.
If you exercise alone, for example, skipping a session next week won't have a significant impact on your life. Because you skipped that workout, your health will not suffer immediately. The consequence of not exercising becomes more immediate if you promise to work out with a friend at 7 in the morning next Monday. For example, you will seem lazy if you don't show up to your workout.
Design your future actions 🛠️
The "commitment device" is one of the methods for overcoming procrastination. By planning your future actions ahead of time, commitment devices can help you quit procrastinating.
For example, cooking in bulk rather than each meal can help you control your future eating habits.
Procrastination can be a difficult problem to overcome, but if you are ready to take the required measures to build a decent action plan and put up the effort to stick to it, you have a high chance of succeeding 🌟🏅