The Procrastination-Killing Tactic To Try Now (Or In 10 Minutes)
Procrastination is closely related to impatience. Their kinship is based on our bias toward the present over the future. Both are examples of the human tendency to overdiscount future events. In both impatience and procrastination, we overweight the immediate. The main difference between the two is whether the immediate thing we are overweighting is a benefit or a cost. When what is immediate is a benefit, we are impatient gluttons, overindulging and consuming more than we should. But when what is immediate is a cost, we are procrastinators, putting off activities we should get done today.
Given what we now know about procrastination, what might we do about its evils? There are no simple fixes, but as with other areas of decision-making, simply being aware of our tendencies is a good place to start. Some rules also can help, though we need the willpower to follow them. We might tell ourselves that before we can put off a task, we must have a unique reason for why we aren’t doing it today and we must commit to completing the task in the future by putting it on our calendar for a specified future date. Web-based tools such as RescueTime.com can help us plan by keeping track of precisely how we fritter away time. Just as the best diet aids involve keeping track of what we eat, the best time management aids involve keeping track of what we do.
Borrowers can reduce their present biases by thinking more carefully about future costs, comparing the cost of a payday loan to the effective interest rate of a credit card, or looking at the estimated cost or savings for a year. Employers can help us avoid our high short-term discount rates by automatically enrolling us in a savings plan unless we opt out. For many straightforward tasks, it helps to impose strict deadlines.