Many of us have fallen victim to PROCRASTINATION. It’s a real productivity killer, but have you ever dissected why you procrastinate?
I recently came across an interesting equation that provides some useful insight into the components that make up procrastination, and hopefully by looking at each of these components we can begin to analyse how each of us are falling victim to procrastination.
Motivation = (expectancy x value)/(impulsiveness x delay)
Lets look at each of these components…
If you feel confident of successfully completing a task, your expectancy will be higher and that will increase your motivation to get the work done.
If the task looks really difficult, expectancy will be low and you’ll be more likely to procrastinate.
Value includes the rewards you get for completing the task, as well as how pleasant or unpleasant the experience of actually doing it is.
This is about how susceptible you are to falling foul of distractions and impulses to do other things, and this is directly correlated with procrastination.
The less able you are to resist the sudden desire to check Facebook, the more you’re going to put off working on that should do task.
If you can resist such an impulse, you’ll actually be strengthening your brain’s ability to focus. This is definitely a case of practice makes perfect.
This is the amount of time between now and when you’ll get any reward for completing the task.
The more you delay doing a task, the less likely you are to do it, because people naturally place far more value on short-term rewards over long-term rewards, even if the long term rewards are objectively greater.
So having identified the components that cause procrastination, the question is how to overcome them…
Break tasks into smaller sub-tasks. This reduces the psychological burden and possible anxiety, which can be experienced when taking on a particularly difficult task. The thought of taking on a particularly hard task can often be enough to prevent you from starting.
Don’t be scared to ask for help. If you can enlist the help of someone who genuinely knows what they are talking about, they can help you over the inevitable difficult bumps in the road.
Improve task VALUE
Improve the actual rewards for completing the task, such as visualising a more fulfilled life or enjoying the fruits of your labour.
Improve the experience of doing the work itself, such as doing the work in a nicer location/environment.
Add additional rewards for completing sub-tasks, such as can be found with gamification, or letting yourself watch a movie, or spend time on social media, when you complete something.
Prevent distractions and temptations by removing yourself from them. If you’re needing to exercise, go to the gym where you’ll be immersed in a fitness focused environment. If you need to get an article written, work on a computer that has no internet access, so you aren’t distracted by social media.
Willpower get used up during the day, like a tank of fuel, so do hard things first when your willpower is fully charged.
Overcome DELAY paralysis
To make use of our natural tendency to put more value on short-term rewards over long-term rewards, break long term goals into shorter term ones, and give yourself a treat when completing them. This way you are making use of your natural tendencies, rather than trying to fight them.
The Pomodoro technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980’s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. This timer acts as an external motivator, and makes a bigger task more digestible.
So there you have it, work your way through the components of procrastination and figure out how best to hack each, and at the end of it, do what you want to get done.
For more motivational hack, check out our motivational guide.