The psychological origins of procrastination – and how we can stop putting things off
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.
SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:
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...
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.)
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.
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...
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 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.
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.
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.
... people have when they procrastinate: