Why Wait? The Psychological Origins of Procrastination

now later

Article Rating: 8.5/10

Even the most successful people procrastinate. What is interesting is that the same scientific reasons we procrastinate can be used to prevent procrastination. In this article, Elliot T Berkman Ph.D. maps out different studies that show scientific reasons and what we can do to use it to our advantage.

The content of this article is great and it is easy to understand, but Berkman’s style is a little different from most of the articles I review. For example one of his headings is “To do, or not to do” and another heading is “The distant deadline” both of which are dramatic and a total turn off for me. Don’t let the headings deceive you though, because once you get past them, the content is well written and have very few “dramatized” phrasings.

Overall the article insightful, and has many links to the studies he sited that I found additionally insightful. One of the studies he mentioned was Temporal Discounting which shows that  people are more likely to accept something now (such as $83) instead of waiting to receive something more ($100) in three months. This is important to understanding procrastination because the completion of a project happens in the future.

Berkman illustrated how he ussually cleans his house instead of grading papers, so he uses Temporal Discounting to counter the procrastination.

This way of thinking suggests a simple trick to defeat procrastination: find a way to boost the subjective value of working now, relative to the value of other things. You could increase the value of the project, decrease the value of the distraction, or some combination of the two.

For example, instead of cleaning my house, I might try to focus on why grading is personally important to me. Or I could think about how unpleasant cleaning can actually be – especially when sharing a house with a toddler.

In other words, try to skew the value of the benefits you get from procrastinating and the value you get when you work in your mind so that the value of working is far higher than that of procrastinating.

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