Procrastination can be the ultimate guide to your passion--as I recently wrote about, what you do while you procrastinate could be your true calling. But let's be honest: Sometimes we procrastinate for reasons other than misdirected passion.
Motivational speaker James Clear just shared a fascinating take on why people procrastinate:
When you make plans for yourself -- like setting a goal to lose weight or write a book or learn a language -- you are actually making plans for your future self. You are envisioning what you want your life to be like in the future and when you think about the future it is easy for your brain to see the value in taking actions with long-term benefits.
When the time comes to make a decision, however, you are no longer making a choice for your future self. Now you are in the moment and your brain is thinking about the present self. And researchers have discovered that the present self really likes instant gratification, not long-term payoff.
My colleague Susannah Breslin read my procrastination column and also admitted her own motivational challenges in an article.
- Design your future actions (James): "You can stop wasting time on your phone by deleting games or social media apps. You can build an emergency fund by setting up an automatic transfer of funds to your savings account. Find ways to automate your behavior beforehand rather than relying on willpower in the moment," James writes.
- Set the bar low (Susannah): I'd argue that most of our procrastination isn't from low standards, but rather from keeping unrealistic expectations that intimidate us from starting in the first place.
- Reduce the friction of starting (James): "Put all of your effort and energy into building a ritual and make it as easy as possible to get started.Don't worry about the results until you've mastered the art of showing up," James writes.
- Make yourself accountable (Susannah): "[Publishing my blog] helps me hold myself accountable. Without it, the failure is private. With it, procrastination will lead to public humiliation. Faced with a choice between doing it and admitting to not doing it, I'd rather just get it done," Susannah writes.
- State intent out loud or on paper (James): "For example, 'I will exercise for at least 30 minutes on [DATE] in [PLACE] at [TIME].'... [I]mplementation intentions can make you 2x to 3x more likely to perform an action in the future," James writes.
Which techniques will be killing your procrastination today?