Even the most diligent workers face the occasional bout of procrastination. While some say it may be best to just embrace your reluctance to work, some situations require more immediate action. So what's the best way to push through the procrastination?

A recent piece published in the The Conversation, a website focused on academic research, sheds some light on the psychology of why people procrastinate. University of Oregon psychology professor Elliot Berkman and Ph.D candidate Jordan Miller-Ziegler, studied how motivational systems, neural processes, and more affect whether or nor people achieve their goals. 

The desire to procrastinate typically stems from the undesirable qualities of the task at hand--it's too hard, it's boring, etc. Thus, Berkman and Miller-Ziegler say the solution is clear: To boost your motivation to complete the task at hand, either find ways to increase the value of the task, or decrease the value of the task that's distracting you.

It sounds simple enough--the authors give the example of a teacher choosing between grading student papers and cleaning his house. If grading papers is the more time-sensitive task, the teacher should focus on why grading papers is personally important to him. But how do you translate this into a long-term solution to solve your procrastination problem? 

Berkman and Miller-Ziegler say that one of the most powerful ways to increase the value of a project--and thus be less likely to put it off--is to connect it to your sense of identity. For example, writers who are putting off finishing a story have to think of the story in terms of how it will affect their long-term, identity-centric goals--completing the story now will help them become the writer they've always dreamed of becoming. 

"You can be really good at something, whether it's cooking a gourmet meal or writing a story, but if you don't possess the motivation, or sense of importance, to complete the task, it'll likely be put off," Berkman and Miller-Ziegler write. 

Published on: Oct 9, 2015