The roots of procrastination date back to Greek Philosophers like Socrates and Aristotle who referred to it as Akrasia loosely meaning ‘acting against your judgement.' Over the last 30 years, the number of chronic procrastinators has quadrupled from 5% in 1978 to around 20% in 2010. The impact of procrastination has had a ripple effect from the individual all the way up to large corporations with reports indicating that it in 2012, it cost businesses about $10,396 per year for each employee who is a chronic procrastinator.
Why Do We Procrastinate?
While procrastination has been around for many years, it is still not clear why people procrastinate. The best scientific explanation for the behavior has been through a phenomenon called "Time Inconsistency” which refers to the tendency of the brain to prefer immediate rewards over future or long-term rewards. According to the phenomenon, while you might be able to make plans for the future, you’re unable to execute them. This is a common trait among procrastinators.
How to Overcome Procrastination
There are plenty of different approaches that have been used to help people suffering procrastination. The following strategies have been largely successful. However, like any other condition, it requires a lot of dedication and consistency on your part.
Taking action should be more rewarding
There is a simple strategy called temptation bundling which can help to overcome procrastination. Using this approach, you bundle a behavior that is good for you in long-term with one that feels good in the short term. For instance, you can listen to your favorite podcasts while exercising or watching your favorite show while doing chores in the house. One has an immediate reward the other has benefits in the future.
Make the cost of procrastination severe and immediate
Procrastination has a price. By multiplying this cost and making the consequences more severe, you can challenge yourself to get more done within the right time. For instance, missing a day of workout or a week might not look like much. But, if you ask a friend to commit to working out with you, opting out becomes harder which reduces the chances of procrastinating.
It is important to remember that merely making these changes to your work and life might not be enough. To overcome procrastination, you need to be consistent and keep up with your daily routines to prevent procrastination from creeping back.