Procrastination…why on earth do we do it to ourselves?
Turns out we have a baked in design fault – Time Inconsistency.
Our Future Self can set goals but only the Present Self can take action.
What seems like a great idea as we go to bed becomes a tedious chore in the morning.
Our brain values long-term benefits when we are thinking of the future (tomorrow).
But values immediate gratification when it comes to the present moment (today).
Our Present Self and the Future Self are at odds with one another
So how do we tip the balance in Future Self’s favour?
1 – Make rewards more immediate – Temptation Bundling
Only do [the thing you love] while doing [the thing you procrastinate on].
– Listen to audiobooks or podcasts you love while exercising.
– Get a pedicure while processing overdue work emails.
– Watch your favourite show while ironing or doing household chores.
The night before its premiere, whilst out drinking with friends, Mozart realised he hadn’t written the overture to “Don Giovanni”.
His wife Constanze told him fairy tales as he composed in order to keep him awake long enough to finish.
2 – Make Penalties more immediate: Create a commitment contract.
– Enlist a buddy to do it with you or hold you accountable – the social pressure to avoid letting them down is immediate.
– Make a public declaration to people whose opinion you care about (improves chances of success by up to x3).
– Utilise loss aversion and accountability to impose immediate penalties https://www.stickk.com/tour
3 – Create Commitment Devices design your future actions ahead of time to avoid temptation.
– Buy food in individual packages rather than in the bulk size.
– Delete games or social media apps to reduce time wasted on your phone.
– Voluntarily join the banned list at gambling sites to prevent future gambling sprees.
– Set up an automatic transfer of funds to your savings account.
Victor Hugo locked away his clothes while finishing The Hunchback of Notre Dame. As he had no clothes to go out in, he spent the remaining time before publication finishing up his book, naked.
4 – Make Actions more achievable
- 5 minute rule – everyone can commit to 5 minutes of anything, once you get started you might just continue.
- Start small – avoid over committing target 2 days at the gym and smash your goal.
- Use small increments – if a task is overwhelming it’s harder to get started. How do you eat an elephant? one bite at a time.
- Power 1/2 hour – set the clock, build the urgency and dive in.
- Visual Cues use a tick list or cross off successful days on a wall calendar.
- Don’t let the perfect get in the way of the good.
- Maybe you don’t have all the skills yet or all the information – just get started (responsibly).
- Follow the Pareto rule – you achieve 80% of the result in 20% of the time.
…and if you need any help, just give me a call – I’m here to support you and doing both online and face to face sessions in Chiswick, Acton and Windsor
Crisis Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and EFT practitioner
07946 526 838
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