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The 4 Causes of Procrastination | Nick Wignall

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.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

The 4 Causes of Procrastination | Nick Wignall

The 4 Causes of Procrastination | Nick Wignall

https://nickwignall.com/the-4-causes-of-procrastination/

nickwignall.com

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Key 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 more likely to procrastinate.

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.)

Delay

How much time there is in between the decision to take on a task and the point when it must be completed.

The longer you have to finish a task, the longer you’ll wait to get started on it.

The Procrastination Equation

Odds of Overcoming Procrastination = Self-Efficacy x Value / Impulsiveness x Delay.

Our likelihood to resist procrastination on a specific task is equal to the product of our self-efficacy and the value of the task divided by the product of how impulsive we are and the amount of delay between taking on a task and its due date.

Fight back against procrastination

  • Don't follow blindly advice from other people on overcoming procrastination. We may procrastinate because of very different reasons. Find what works for you.
  • Identify your unique vulnerability to procrastination. Do this routinely, and you should start to see patterns and trends.
  • Use targeted anti-procrastination strategies, adapted to your specific case.
  • Consider working with your procrastination rather than fighting against it.

Anti-procrastination suggestions

... for the 4 causes of procrastination:

  • Create small wins to address Self-efficacy: break the big goal into smaller manageable ones.
  • Create artificial systems of reinforcement to address Value: pair an aversive task with an enjoyable one.
  • Eliminate distractions ruthlessly to address Impulsiveness: don’t rely on willpower to resist distractions; change your environment instead.
  • Set micro due dates to address Delay: break down a task into reasonable chunks, each with a due date.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Procrastinating and emotions

According to traditional thinking, procrastinators have a time-management problem. They are unable to understand how long a task will take and need to learn how to schedule their time better.

Short-term mood lifters

Studies show low mood only increases procrastination if enjoyable activities are available as a distraction. In other words, we're drawn to other activities to avoid the discomfort of applying ourselves.

Adverse consequences

Procrastination leads to two primary consequences.

  1. It's stressful to keep putting off important tasks and failing to meet your goals.
  2. Procrastination often involves delaying important health behaviors, such as taking up exercise or visiting a doctor.

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Procrastination as a coping mechanism

People tend to procrastinate to avoid emotionally unpleasant tasks - so they choose to focus on something that provides a temporary mood boost.

This creates a vicious cycl...

The science behind getting started

Progress on our goals feeds our well-being. So the most important thing to do is bootstrap a little progress: get a little progress, and that’s going to fuel your well-being and your motivation.

Implementation intentions for better focus

This is a self-regulatory strategy in the form of an "if-then plan": "If the phone rings, then I’m not going to answer it." "If my friends call me to say we’re going out, I’m going to say no." So you’ve already made these pre-commitments.

“Positive” Procrastination

At the top of your to-do list, put a couple of daunting, if not impossible, tasks that are vaguely important-sounding (but really aren’t) and seem to have deadlines (but really don’t). 

...

Dashes

dash is simply a short burst of focused activity during which you force yourself to do nothing but work on the procrastinated item for a very short period of time—perhaps as little as just one minute.

The first thing is to take one minute and just write down the steps you need to do to finish the task - just a rough draft, at first, and that’s it. 

Now there is nothing else to think about, and there is no way to screw this task up. Everything is laid out and you can just start working on it.

Commitment Devices

First, give your friend $100. If you get the task done by 5 PM, you get your $100 back. If it doesn’t, you lose the $100.

Or make it $200 that the friend doesn’t keep — they donate it to some weird organizations, in your name.

Get the picture? That’s a commitment device.

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