Procrastination

It’s been about five months since I’ve written a blog post. Sure, I could blame the budding of a new relationship, the death of my step-dad, or multiple bouts of the cold/flu… But since we’re all friends here, I’ll tell you the real, honest-to-goodness reason:

Procrastination

Do you ever prepare to start a particularly daunting task, only to find yourself quickly engaged in another? When I was in college, this was an all-too-familiar experience: I would sit down to write an essay, look up and see a pile of dirty dishes in my sink, and before I’d know it the drying rack was full, the counters were clean, and I was mopping the floor.

These days, my procrastination looks a bit more like going to bed with the intention to accomplish X, Y, and Z tomorrow, only to find that I have no more energy to do those things tomorrow than I had today. My decision to procrastinate usually follows half-heartedly bargaining with myself about why I should do a particular task later. While less malicious than thinking, F&%# you, future Angela!, it doesn’t do her any favors.

How do I stop?

While procrastination may seem like a mysterious force outside of your control — or outside of your ability and/or willingness to exercise self-control — newer studies find that the reason you procrastinate might come down to a fundamental misunderstanding of time; specifically, that present you will one day be future you. Consciously, you’re aware of this continuation of self, but you may still feel disconnected from a self you haven’t experienced yet.

However, a study by psychologist Hal Hershfield found a way to impact people’s choices in favor of their future selves. The participants who were shown digitally aged photos of themselves chose to invest twice as much of a hypothetical $1000 in a retirement fund than those who were not.

Bring on the wrinkles!

You can read more about this study and its possible applications in Harvard Business Review, and for the conscientious or the morbidly curious, there is an app out there called AgingBooth. It’s pretty low-tech, but it’s free—and just might influence you to save money for your future self!

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m off to catch what few nods are left to be had so that 6 a.m. Angela isn’t too miserable. AFK!

-11:36 p.m. Angela

Readers Comments (3)

  1. Tim Urban knows that procrastination doesn’t make sense, but he’s never been able to shake his habit of waiting until the last minute to get things done.

  2. Tim Urban points out that the typical advice for procrastinators — essentially, to stop what they’re doing and get down to work, is ridiculous, because procrastination isn’t something that extreme procrastinators feel as though they can control.

  3. It’s a shame you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to this superb blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account. I look forward to new updates and will share this blog with my Facebook group. Chat soon!
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