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Why We Procrastinate - Issue 9: Time - Nautilus

http://nautil.us/issue/9/time/why-we-procrastinate

nautil.us

Why We Procrastinate - Issue 9: Time - Nautilus
The British philosopher Derek Parfit espoused a severely reductionist view of personal identity in his seminal book, Reasons and Persons: It does not exist, at least not in the way we usually consider it. We humans, Parfit argued, are not a consistent identity moving through time, but a chain of successive selves, each tangentially linked to, and yet distinct from, the previous and subsequent ones.

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The implications of the disconnect

Thinking of your future self as if it is another person has serious implications: We might choose to procrastinate and let the "other" person deal with the future consequences or problems on today's choices.

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Strengthen your connection to yourself

Strengthen your connection to yourself
  • Psychologist Anne Wilson has manipulated people's perception of time. By using a longer timeline, such as a due date that is far off, people feel more connected to their future selves.
  • Hal Hershfield, an assistant professor, used a virtual reality room to show subjects a digitally older version of themselves. The result is that participants were more likely to make responsible choices for their future selves.

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Our perception of ourselves

Derek Parkfit describes personal identity as a chain of successive selves, all linked, but each different from the previous or subsequent self. Our approach to our future self is like our attitude to other people: we see our future selves as strangers.

This interferes with our ability to make good choices. Think of when you have a good New Year's resolution that you break soon after.

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Why we procrastinate

Procrastination is more about our emotions than our tendencies for laziness or just being “bad at deadlines”. At its core, we procrastinate to keep ourselves happy in the moment.

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How to overcome your procrastination habit

We have two ways of dealing with our procrastination:

  1. Make whatever we’re procrastinating on feel less uncomfortable, and
  2. Convince our present selves into caring about our future selves.

Make getting started ridiculously easy

Often starting a task is the biggest hurdle. Research shows that progress—no matter how small—can be a huge motivator to help us keep going.

Set the timer for just 5 or 10 minutes. While the timer’s running, you don’t have to work, but you can’t do anything else. You have to sit with your work, even if you don’t get started.

Phishing

It is a scam by which an internet user is deceived into revealing personal or confidential information which can be used illicitly.

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Losing everything with a click

When it comes to phishing emails, you can lose everything with just a click.

You can give away your most important personal or financial information, download a destructive virus or install malware on your computer that compromises your files.

Using emotional tactics

Phishing emails are designed to bypass logic and manipulate our emotions.

Phishing is effective because it appeals to our biases and emotions. It tries to get us to make a decision quickly without considering possible biases. This leaves us open to unwise decisions.