7 Ways to Stop Procrastinating on Important TasksNone By Homaira Kabir
Say you set out for work in the morning. Your intention, hopefully, is to get there on time. However, an expected traffic jam slows you down, as do traffic lights that turn red every time you get to them. You arrive at work flustered, but do you tell your colleagues you’re late because you procrastinated?
Likely not. This is because procrastination is not involuntary delay. Instead, it’s a voluntary intention-action gap where we postpone for the future what we should be tackling in the present. In other words, it’s a misalignment between our present and future selves.
This misalignment isn’t uncommon, but it matters. Our future self has goals, dreams, and aspirations. Our present self simply wants to avoid pain and approach pleasure. Its motivational driver is not hope, but fear. And unfortunately, it’s this present self that is in charge of the journey to our future self.
Psychologist Tim Pychyl, author of Solving the Procrastination Puzzle, calls procrastination an emotional regulation problem, not a time-management one. When the present self is disconnected from the future self, it falls prey to the natural action tendency of avoidance when faced with painful or fearful tasks. No wonder distractions and anxieties derail us, despite the best planning and scheduling.
So how do we realign our two selves so that present actions honor future goals—rather than the other way around?
Anti-Procrastination Tip #1: Nurture Thy Future Self
Studies show that those of us who spend time thinking about who we want to become given our values, strengths and abilities, actually go on to fulfill o