3 Reasons to Stop Procrastinating
It feels like there are more distractions now than ever. And there’s probably truth to that, as evidenced by an uptick in the amount of published research on the causes, effects, and potential treatments for procrastination. Want to stop putting things off? Read on before you get distracted.
1. DO IT FOR THE FUTURE YOU.
Among researchers who study procrastination, one conclusion is clear: Procrastinators aren’t connected to their future selves. The more we think of our future selves, the less we’ll put off the things we just assume that future self, as opposed to the person we are today, will one day get done. One way to start thinking better: Count down the days, not the months or weeks, to a deadline, date, or goal. The specificity of the number of days caused people in a recent study to change “how connected and congruent their current and future selves felt” for the better, by making the future feel more imminent.
2. DO IT FOR YOUR HEART.
Earlier this year, scientists set out to see if there was a connection between procrastination and health problems—specifically, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The answer was disconcerting: Those who reported having either condition were likelier to admit being procrastinators. The study didn’t establish causality, but procrastinators may punish themselves by stressing over unfinished projects, or they may exercise less control over their health choices.
3. DO IT FOR THE INTERNET.
In August, researchers at Stockholm University published one of the first studies on procrastination treatment. Their results demonstrated that procrastinators can find help—of all places—online. The program used therapist-guided and unguided online programs that broke tasks into subtasks and encouraged participants to reward themselves for getting stuff done. Both the unguided and guided help worked: Up to 36 percent of unguided participants and 40 percent of guided participants felt they were more productive over the course of the study. Hooray! Not all procrastinators with a smartphone are doomed.
1. “When Does the Future Begin? Time Metrics Matter, Connected Present and Future Selves,” Psychological Science, June 2015, Lewis, N., Oyserman, D.
2. “Is Procrastination a Vulnerability Factor for Hypertension and Cardiovascular Disease?” Journal of Behavioral Medicine, June 2015, Sirois, F.M.
3. “Internet-Based Cognitive-Behavior Therapy for Procrastination: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, August 2015, Rozental, A., Svensson, A., Andersson, G., Carlbring, P.