Is there a Cure for Procrastination? Some thoughts for students and teachers

I’m a very selective procrastinator. I only procrastinate with things I don’t want to do! Seriously though, we all have things we procrastinate with. (Why is it a called ‘pro’ anyway? There’s nothing ‘pro’ about it). I always wonder how people motivate themselves to do things that they’d rather not do. For me personally there are a few tricks I’ve learned which I’d like to share.

Pain & Pleasure – First of all, in simple terms, our motivations in life are the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain. If we’re procrastinating with something then this means we interpret it to be a painful act or it that it will prevent us from doing something pleasurable. For example, painting the house may be considered painful or at best neutral. However if you’re told you must paint the house while the big game is on TV or while everyone else is going to the beach then it would quickly become a pain. If we focus on the end result of what we need to do then we will have a good idea of why we need to do it. The philosopher Nietzsche once said “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how”.

To-do Lists – Sometimes we don’t do our work because we don’t really define what it is we need to do. If I go to the office and say I need to do ‘work’ I end up surfing the net or reading the paper and not getting anything done. However, if I write down a few specific actionable items that I tell myself I must do today then chances are much higher that they’ll get done.

Enhancement – We can find ways to make un-pleasurable things, like doing our taxes, more fun. For example I hate running. I find it boring and exhausting. However I like music and soccer. So to convince myself to get a cardio workout I will either go jogging with my iPod on or bring a soccer ball. These minor things make running bearable and fun. By combining things we like with what we dislike we can change the situation around completely.

Self-persuasion – To cure procrastination we have to learn how to do self persuasion. When we finally convince ourselves that we need to run that errand, finish that essay or work on that project it’s because we have found a way to persuade ourselves to do it. Sometimes we can do this with fear. The fear may be of getting a bad grade, getting yelled at or losing our job. The other alternative is pleasure. For instance we may motivate ourselves to go to the gym with the promise that in the future we will have better looking bodies. Whatever the case may be, we can figure out what motivates us and use that as a tool.

Goals – We can figure out what motivates us in life by focusing on our goals. Don’t have any goals? Well start thinking about it. Goals are extremely important ways to establish where ...

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Tags: control, goals, procrastination, productivity, self


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