Just because procrastination is universal doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. You need to stop procrastinating and buckle up!
“My advice is, never do tomorrow what you can do today. Procrastination is the thief of time. Collar him!”
― Charles Dickens, David Copperfield
For as long as humans have been around, we have been struggling with delaying, avoiding, and procrastinating on issues that matter to us and are extremely important in life. Everyone procrastinates including me, you, and even the person who is sitting next door building to you.
Procrastination is one of the challenges, which knowingly or unknowingly, we all face at one point of time or another in life.
Studies show that over 20 percent of the adult population put off or avoid doing certain tasks by allowing themselves to be overtaken by distractions.
Today, in this complete step-by-step guide we’re going to talk about how to stop procrastinating.
Complete guide on how to stop procrastinating
What Is Procrastination?
Let us try to understand what exactly is procrastination? If you search in Google , it tells you that procrastination is “the action of delaying or postponing something.”
That’s sound pretty simple and not that serious, isn’t it? But in reality, procrastination is serious.
Piers Steel, a professor of psychology at the University of Calgary in Alberta and the author of the book The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done, defines it as “Procrastination is to voluntarily delay an intended course of action despite expecting to be worse off for the delay.”
In simple words, procrastination is doing more comfortable and pleasurable things in place of less comfortable ones. It results in that important tasks are postponed to a later time.
Procrastination is basically an avoidance strategy. Procrastinators choose to do something else instead of doing what they need to do. Because it’s much easier to choose and remain in comfort zone and it makes difficult to stop procrastinating.
Reasons For procrastination
OK, with the definitions given above, you have a bit of understanding about what is procrastination. Now a question in your mind must be going on, why do we procrastinate? To know why people procrastinate is good opportunity to bring some science into our discussion and look in to the causes of procrastinating or reasons for procrastination.
1. Diminished Self Control
Self-control is generally considered to be a matter of will power, but one study revealed that self-control of human beings is limited. In a study done on self-control by Dr. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist from School of Psychology – University of Queensland, it was found that just like any muscles, human’s self-control is a limited resource that can quickly become exhausted.
When the self-control is close to being diminished or exhausted, human tend to choose what’s more pleasurable– the tasks providing immediate gratification instead of the actual works.
2. Time Inconsistency
Behavioral psychology research has revealed a phenomenon called “time inconsistency,” which helps explain why procrastination seems to pull you back to start any work in despite your good intentions.
Time inconsistency is the inclination of the human brain to value present or immediate rewards more highly than future rewards.
Let’s take a bit deeper penetration of time inconsistency. Imagine there are two YOU within you: One is your present YOU and another is your Future YOU. When you set goals for yourself, say for example starting a new start-up or start blogging or quitting smoking or losing weight or implementing an initiative in your job or writing a book or learning a new language — you are actually making plans for your Future YOU. You are looking at how you want your life to be in the future.
Behavioral science research has revealed that when you think with your Future YOU, it is quite easy for your brain to see the value in taking actions with long-term benefits and rewards. The Future YOU comes into action and values long-term benefits and rewards.
Here comes the tricky situation for your brain, while the Future YOU can set goals, only the Present YOU can take the initiative for action. When the time comes to make a decision for taking an action, you are no longer doing it with your Future YOU. Now you are in the present moment, and your brain is thinking with your Present YOU.