SL: Can people really overcome procrastination? TP:... - Deepstash

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SL: Can people really overcome procrastination?

TP: I guess I'm a living case. When I was an undergraduate, I procrastinated a lot. And now that I understand procrastination, I just have no room to wiggle.

Because it's all about self-deception - you aren't aware that it's going to cost you, but you are. When there's no more self-deception and you face yourself, you either shit or get off the pot. You're either going to do it, or you're not going to do it.

I really like my life, and I like to make time for the things that are important to me. [Robert] Pozen, who's written a book on extreme productivity , has the OHIO rule: only handle it once. And I'm like that with email. I look at that email and say, "I can reply to it now, or I can throw it out," but there's not much of a middle ground. I'm not going to save it for a while.




I can simplify that and say that psychologists recognize we all have a 6-year-old running the ship. And the 6-year-old is saying, "I don't want to! I don't feel like it!"

SL: What are you discovering about how procrastinators' brains work?

TP: Recently we've been doing research that...

Pychyl , a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, has been studying procrastinators for some 19 years. I talked to him about why people procrastinate and how they can learn to stop.

Susannah Lo...

SL: What's the most surprising thing to you about procrastination?

TP: I think the most surprising thing I'm still grappling with is that for many people, the experience of procrastination doesn't match the definition that most of us are working with: a voluntary delay of an intended actio...

Our motivational state rarely matches the task at hand, so we always have to use self-regulation skills to bring our focus to it. So at first it will be, "Okay, I recognize that I don't feel like it, but I'm just gonna get started."

SL: What's the evidence that just beginning a task, even ...

TP: [Peter] Gollwitzer and his colleagues for years have shown us that implementation intentions make a huge difference to even deal with things like distractions.

Implementation intentions take the form of "If, then." "If the phone rings,...

If you speak to people, they'll tell you that it doesn't feel voluntary: "I feel like I have no control over it." For some people, it feels totally involuntary, like they can't help themselves.

SL: What's your one biggest tip for stopping procrastination?

TP: One of my pet expressio...

Tax Day is a horror for many procrastinators.

For many people, a little procrastination isn't harmful - like 15 minutes lost in Facebook or putting off doing the laundry for a few days.

But then there are things like taxes. And all the people who keep meaning to start

But psychologists see procrastination as a misplaced coping mechanism, as an emotion-focused coping strategy. [People who procrastinate are] using avoidance to cope with emotions, and many of them are unconscious emotions. So we see it as giving in to feel good. And it's related to a lack of self...

She's doing a study right now using an imagery intervention. So she's going to have students think of an image of themselves at the end of the term. And the hypothesis is that those students who engage with this imagery of future self will then procrastinate less. We [think] that people will make...

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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 cycle: procrastination itself causes shame and guilt — which in turn leads people to procrastinate even f...




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.

However, psychologists increasingly realize that procrastination is an issue with managing our e...




Procrastination is a lifestyle

20% of people identify themselves as chronic procrastinators. For them, procrastination is a lifestyle, albeit a maladaptive one. 

It cuts across all domains of their lives. They don't pay bills on time. They miss opportunities for buying tickets to concerts.