7 Steps to Cure Procrastination
Procrastination is an art that most of us seem to have mastered. But it is not something we can or we should boast about. It is a flaw in our behaviour that we need to rectify. To overcome procrastination we should first know the science behind it.
Dr. Piers Steel, an expert on human motivation, gives an equation that will help us understand procrastination. According to him,
In this equation motivation is our willingness to work or the opposite of procrastination. Expectancy is the degree we expect to succeed at the task and get the reward. So, more the expectancy, more the motivation, and less the procrastination. Value refers to how much we enjoy a task and its reward. If the value we are likely to get from a task is more, then our willingness to get straight to work will be more. Impulsiveness is our tendency to get distracted. Our impulsiveness will be high if we are easily lured into social media when we should be working. Delay refers to the time we have between doing the task and getting the reward. If the delay is greater we tend to think of it as a task that can be done later.
According to this equation, expectancy and value are directly proportional to motivation while impulsiveness and delay are inversely proportional to motivation. So, to increase motivation and decrease procrastination we should increase expectancy and value, and decrease impulsiveness and delay. There are several methods we can use to achieve this. Given below are 7 steps we can follow to cure our procrastination.
- Breaking Down the Steps
The first thing to do to cure procrastination is to break down large goals into smaller tasks. Smaller tasks will seem easier to accomplish and will increase the expectancy in our equation. Assigning a timeline for these smaller tasks too will make them easier to tackle. We can make use of different tools to organize and follow this timeline.
- Keeping the Tasks Small
The hardest part of every task is the start. To overcome this hurdle we can make use of the Pomodoro Technique. According to this, we should work in 25-minute blocks with a 5-minute break between each block. During each block, we should focus only on one small task. If we tell ourselves we need to dedicate 5 hours to complete a certain task, we will automatically feel demotivated. But if we tell ourselves we need to put in only 25 minutes to complete this small task we are more likely to do it. This method will help us stay focused and also increases our expectancy.
- Setting the Bar Low
This is another method that will increase our expectancy. We should set our goal to less than what we are capable of. So, if we want to create a habit, like meditation, rather than starting at 20 minutes a day we should start at something lower like 2 or 5 minutes. This will make the task seem effortless and we will automatically start doing it every day for more than our set goal. We can slowly increase the bar we have set to reach our desired goal.
- Hacking Pleasure from the Experience of a Task
According to the equation, more the value of a task, less the procrastination. One way to increase value is by rewarding ourselves at the end of each task. It can be a small treat to ourselves or a tasty meal or spending time with our friends. Another way to increase value is by making the experience of the task itself pleasurable. This can be done by changing our environment or listening to music that will push us along the task.
- Using Parkinson’s Law to Our Advantage
Parkinson’s Law states that the work expands to fill the time allotted to it. So if we allot 2 hours to a task that we can complete in 30 minutes, we will end up using the entire 2 hours to do it. This problem can be overcome by setting artificial deadlines that force us to get our work done. These artificial deadlines decrease the delay in the equation and will thereby decrease procrastination. But we should also take care to not be too aggressive with the deadlines. They shouldn’t increase our stress which will take away from our motivation
- Being Deliberate with Our Environment
Distractions are an important factor that contributes to procrastination. Rather than trying to overcome distractions through sheer willpower, we can overcome them by crafting a work environment that minimizes distractions. This decreases the impulsiveness in the motivation equation. We should put our phones on silent and go full screen with our work. If we find working at home too distracting we can go to a library or a coffee shop for a peaceful environment.
- Understanding Our Personality Type
How useful a piece of advice is for us stems from the fact that each of our personalities are different. We often find that certain advice works better for us than for others. To optimize our lives, whether, in terms of study habits, diet, or exercise, we should understand ourselves better. If we know our personality deeply, we can understand what techniques work better for us and use it to our advantage.
Following these 7 simple steps will surely put us on the right track to overcoming procrastination. Curing ourselves of procrastination is such a simple task. But it is also important for our achievement of goals and we should take care to not procrastinate on curing our procrastination.
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