KILL PRO­CRAS­TI­NA­TION WITH RE­WARDS

PUTTING IT OFF. THE VERY BANE OF OUR EX­IS­TENCE. YOU CAN CHOOSE TO CARRY ON LIV­ING WITH IT, OR BAT­TLE. BOTH PATHS ARE DIF­FI­CULT, BUT THE FIRST ONLY CAS­CADES INTO MORE TROUBLE.

Business Today - - CONTENTS - Com­piled by Mala Bhar­gava

Putting it off. The very bane of our ex­is­tence. You can choose to carry on liv­ing with it, or bat­tle. The first cas­cades into more trouble.

James Clear, writer, pho­tog­ra­pher and weightlifter has made it his busi­ness to study the forces that shape our suc­cesses and our fail­ures. He in­tends to help us be­come ar­chi­tects of our own habits rather than let­ting them just hap­pen to us. And pro­cras­ti­na­tion, Clear says, is time­less. One the­ory about why pro­cras­ti­na­tion hap­pens, he writes, is that do­ing some­thing else is re­ward­ing more im­me­di­ately. You may have a pre­sen­ta­tion to put to­gether for a talk next week and you re­ally want to work on it and make it bril­liant - but div­ing into the last few chap­ters of that thriller you were reading is so much more re­ward­ing right now. And when it comes to dis­tant fu­ture goals like writ­ing a book or los­ing weight, there’s a long wait for the re­wards. So one of Clear’s many sug­ges­tions is bring re­wards — and con­se­quences — into the more im­me­di­ate sphere. If one were to do the math, a so­lu­tion to ha­bit­ual pro­cras­ti­na­tion is to do a lit­tle fid­dling and cre­ate re­wards and con­se­quences that are in the here and now. Psy­chol­o­gists have long used this tech­nique and it is in fact an en­tire field known as ‘Be­havioural Mod­i­fi­ca­tion’. You can fol­low some­one else’s sys­tem, or cre­ate your own tai­lored one to break down a task and re­ward your­self with some­thing that makes sense to you on com­ple­tion of each chunk. In the same way, you can with­draw some­thing as a sort of pun­ish­ment for your­self if you find your­self putting some­thing off. Of course, it has long been said that the very act of pro­cras­ti­nat­ing is more painful than ac­tu­ally get­ting the job done and once one be­gins, the fo­cus and work is its own re­ward. An­other in­ter­est­ing strat­egy is to try ‘ temp­ta­tion bundling’ which is club­bing some­thing you’re putting off with some­thing you love do­ing. Not al­ways pos­si­ble if a high de­gree of con­cen­tra­tion is needed, but get cre­ative and find the clos­est un­dle you can.

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