The psychological origins of procrastination – and how we can stop putting things off - Deepstash

deepstash

Beta

deepstash

Beta

Deepstash brings you key ideas from the most inspiring articles like this one:

Read more efficiently

Save what inspires you

Remember anything

The psychological origins of procrastination – and how we can stop putting things off

https://theconversation.com/the-psychological-origins-of-procrastination-and-how-we-can-stop-putting-things-off-47905

theconversation.com

The psychological origins of procrastination – and how we can stop putting things off
Don't delay. Read about why we procrastinate, and some tricks to overcome it.

5

Key Ideas

Save all ideas

Procrastination and subjective value

Procrastination and subjective value

Our choice to work on a project is guided by how much we value finishing that project in that moment. Psychologists call this "subjective value."

Procrastination, psychologically speaking, is what happens when the value of doing something else outweighs the value of working now.

887 SAVES

3.88k READS


VIEW

A trick to defeat procrastination

Find a way to increase the subjective value of working in this moment, related to the value of other things.

You can boost the value of the project you should be working on, decrease the value of the thing that is distracting you, or try combinations of these two.

937 SAVES

3.42k READS


Delay discounting

Our tendency to devalue money and other goods based on time is called delay discounting.

This is an important aspect in procrastination because the completion of the project happens in the future. Finishing a project is a delayed reward, so its value in the present is reduced: the further away a deadline is, the less attractive it seems to work on the project right now.

811 SAVES

2.51k READS


Effort makes a task less attractive

Mental effort is costly, so we generally prefer to work on an simple task rather than a hard task. We procrastinate more if we expect a certain task to be hard.

This happens because the more effort a task requires, the more someone stands to gain by putting the same amount of effort into something else. This is called, in economical terms, opportunity cost. Opportunity costs make working on something that seems hard feel like a loss.

798 SAVES

2.28k READS


Increasing the subjective value of a project

Attach the work you have to do to your self-concept.

We generally want to keep a positive self-concept, so goals connected closely to our sense of self or identity take on much more value.

796 SAVES

2.54k READS


SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Self-Efficacy

A person’s belief and expectation that they are capable of completing a task. 

When we don't trust the fact that we'll be able to complete a task (with good results), we're mor...

Value

The more enjoyable a task, the less we procrastinate on it. 

Boring tasks are more likely to lead to procrastination than difficult ones, that's why we keep postponing all the busywork (work that keeps us busy but has little value in itself.)

Impulsiveness

Difficulty maintaining focus in the face of immediate and more appealing distractions.

If we work in an environment where we're bombarded with distractions and we are not capable of resisting them, we're more likely to procrastinate.

4 more ideas

Why you procrastinate

Procrastination is fundamentally an emotional reaction to what you have to do. The more aversive a task is to you, the more you’ll resist it, and the more likely you are to procrastinate.

Make a task less aversive

When you notice yourself procrastinating, use your procrastination as a trigger to examine a task’s characteristics and think about what you should change.

By breaking down exactly which attributes an aversive task has (boring, frustrating, difficult, meaningless, ambiguous, unstructured), you can take those qualities and turn them around to make the task more appealing to you.

Unproductive responses

... people have when they procrastinate:

  • Distracting yourself, and thinking about other things
  • Forgetting what you have to do, either actively or passively
  • Downplaying the importance of what you have to do
  • Focusing on your other values and qualities that will solidify your sense of self
  • Denying responsibility to distance yourself from what you have to do
  • Seeking out new information that supports your procrastination.

Plan the Rest of Your Day

When you don't feel like working on your tasks, take a few moments to plan your day.

Even if you do it as a form of procrastination, to postpone doing the actual work, it will help you...

Smaller Manageable Parts

Break the project you don't want to start into smaller pieces.

Breaking it down into small tasks and adding those to your to-do list isn't exactly fun, but it is less overwhelming than working. And it's also useful: When you finally do get around to starting, you've got a strategy.

Clean Something

Clean something every time you don't want to get started on a work project. Don't listen to a podcast or turn on the radio. Just clean. Make it as boring as possible, so that your mind wanders.

This does two things: it delays actually working on your project and it gives you time to think, possibly generating ideas that will come in handy whenever you get back to the project you're trying to put off.