(1) “THINK: IF I feel negative emotions when I face the task at hand, THEN I will stay put and not stop, put off a task, or run away.” ;
(2) “IF I say to myself things like “I’ll feel more like doing this later” or “I don’t feel like doing this now,” THEN I will just get started on some aspect of the task.”
Long version …
- Sometimes delay is necessary: what is most important now?
- Procrastination is voluntary delay, nothing is preventing us, only our own reluctance.
- The puzzle: why we become our own enemy because of procrastination?
- Procrastination is an internalized, non-conscious habit.
- How to solve this puzzle? Make pre-decisions, instead of habitual response.
- 1st strategy to change: list the procrastinated tasks or projects, and the feelings or thought about them.
- Procrastination => issues: low achievement, negative feeling, health problem (stress, and delay of exercise / healthy diets / sleep).
- Biggest issue: “when we procrastinate on our goals (i.e. lives), we are our own worst enemy”. Why waste the limited time in our lives?
- 2nd strategy to change: list the procrastinated tasks or projects, and the costs of them on happiness, stress, health, finances, relationships, burdens to others.
- 3rd strategy to change: to strengthen our goal intentions, we need to recognize the benefits of acting now for our values, long-term life goals, short-term benefits, and regularly examine our intentions to act timely.
- Procrastination is failure to self-regulate our behaviors to achieve our goals. We have the intent to act, but don’t use self-control to act when intended.
- Why we fail to self-regulate? “GIVE IN TO FEEL GOOD“. We want to feel good now, at the expense of long-term goals. Behaviors that are rewarded (i.e. temporary relief from the negative emotions) get repeated => chronic procrastination.
- 4th strategy to change: when faced with a task where our first inclination is “I’ll do this later” (or “I’ll feel more like this tomorrow”), STOP and RECOGNIZE that we are avoiding the negative emotions we are feeling now.
- We need to improve our emotional intelligence (effectively identify and utilize emotions to guide behaviors). Low EI => more procrastination.
- 5th strategy to change: find a way to cope with the negative feelings, so we can continue to pursue our intended goal. We need to stay put and “suck it up”, otherwise it’s over. ““THINK: IF I feel negative emotions when I face the task at hand, THEN I will stay put and not stop, put off a task, or run away.”
- 6th strategy to change: we can acknowledge our fear, but we can choose to continue to pursue our goals with our inner landscape (curiosity, desire to succeed, and interest).
- 7th strategy: we cannot do effective forecasting instead of “happiness now, pay later (or not)”. Thus, (1) time travel, (2) tell us “My current motivational state does not need to match my intention in order to act.”, (3) “when we set an intention to act tomorrow, and tomorrow comes, expect that you probably will not feel overly enthused to get started.
- “Attitudes follow behaviors more than (or at least as much as) behaviors follow attitudes”
- Problem of self-handicapping to protect self-esteem: “a task done at the last minute can be excused if not done well because it was done in such a short amount of time. And, of course, if the task is done very well, it looks exceptionally good for the individual.”
- 8th strategy to change: Challenge the irrational believes: e.g. we cannot make any mistakes, we need to be perfect. They can lead us to very negative emotions, and excuse for not trying (to protect self-esteem).
- Research show that time pressure usually results in more errors.
- 9th strategy: “IF I say to myself things like “I’ll feel more like doing this later” or “I don’t feel like doing this now,” THEN I will just get started on some aspect of the task.”