Why do we do it?
According to the Science of Procrastination, this very common behavior occurs because, in our minds, we have a tendency to overestimate or underestimate the value of a reward depending on how soon we’ll get it. In other words, the further away the reward, the more you discount its value.
Even if you have all kinds of good intentions, and you’re motivated because of a change of season, a new year, or a new outlook on life, you still might delay working toward what you want.
For example, imagine that you want to achieve your goal to lose 20 pounds in 8 weeks. That seems like a long time away, and the cookies are right there in front of you. How can you stay motivated?
Here are a few ways to stay on track and stop procrastinating:
Put obstacles in the way of your procrastination
Let people know what you’re up to and publicly declare your goal. Once you put it out there, it will be much harder for you to not meet your deadline because your integrity will be on the line.
Embrace your tendency to procrastinate
Accept that you will probably still procrastinate. It’s human nature to put off what we don’t like for something that seems more rewarding. But you can turn this tendency on its head to make it work for you instead of against you.
Here are a few common habits and how you can embrace procrastination to change them:
Delay snacking when you’re not hungry: If you’re tempted to snack, but aren’t hungry, do something else that you enjoy. It helps to consider what you might really be craving: Take a nap if you’re tired. Read a book if you’re bored. Get a hug from a friend if you’re lonely or sad.
Create a savings “bill” to manage your money: If you tend to put off saving your money, you can create a “bill” for yourself called savings. Set a certain percentage of your income to automatically be put aside, and that way, you won’t spend it.
Create fake deadlines to stop wasting time at work: Even if you enjoy your work, you might tend to put off important tasks until the last minute. You can make it more fun by set a short deadline with a reward. The Pomodoro technique works well – you can find this and other tips in our Autumn Cleanse guide.
The Pomodoro technique uses a timer to keep you focused for 25 minutes on your work task. Then take a 5-minute break as a reward. Once your break is over, switch the timer on again for another 25 minutes. After repeating 4 times, take a 15-minute break. You’ll be surprised at how much you can get done in just a couple of hours.
How does procrastination affect you? What do you do break the habit?