The procrastination equation is a concept that explains the factors that contribute to our tendency to procrastinate. It suggests that our motivation to complete a task is determined by the expectation of reward, the value of the reward, the immediacy of the task, and the individual’s sensitivity to delay. By understanding these variables, we can better understand why we procrastinate and take steps to overcome it.
The procrastination equation: expectancy x value / impulsiveness x delay
- Expectancy: confidence you have to see through the task
- Value: meaning that is attached to the task
- Impulsiveness: distractions and temptations
- Delay: closeness to the deadline; the further away it is, the less likely will the task be executed
Apply task to the procrastination equation
For every task, ask yourself the following questions:
- How sure am I that I can achieve it? (Expectancy)
- Does this work have actual meaning to me? (Value)
- How likely am I to be distracted by instant gratification? (Impulsiveness)
- How long is this project going to take to complete? (Delay)
Creating a success spiral enables us to increase our expectancy
Plan you day the night before:
- Decide what you will accomplish first the next day.
- Begin you day by doing something meaningful before other activities creep in.
- Make a checklist and cross items off the list as you complete the tasks.
- Reminding yourself of your wins helps you build momentum.
You can increase the expected value of a task by practicing mental contrasting
Add value to your objectives by visualization: paint a mental picture of where you want to be and compare them to where you are now.
- Fix an image of the life you want in your mind.
- Identify an aspect of that life and focus on it.
- Articulate why this piece of the future life is attractive to you.
- Mentally contrast that life with where you are at the moment.
- Vividly describe the gap between you current life and your visualized life.
Visualization to action – WOOP:
- Wish: What is an important wish that you want to accomplish? (Visualization)
- Outcome: What would be the best result of achieving your wish? (Value)
- Obstacles: What is the main obstacle preventing you from reaching this goal? (Gap between reality and wish)
- Plan: What is an effective action to tackle that obstacle? (Practical steps to take when obstacles arise)
Eliminate distractions from your life
- Designated specific times within the day to check emails.
- Reduce the amount of notifications on your devices.
- Create and recreate a flow state by setting up your environment:
- Pick a specific goal and a specific time frame to work without distractions.
- Same location and time creates less resistance.
Get enough sleep
Tiredness is at the top of the list of reasons people put things off. But sleep can help beat tiredness.
Set up a sleep routine:
- Pic a specific time when you need to be in bed.
- Have pre-bed ritual that calms and allows you to wind down.
- Create a good sleep environment by turning off lights, using dark curtains, or playing slow music.
Find time in the day when you can focus the best:
- Morning bird or night owl?
- Put important tasks a few hours after you wake up
- Extend your efficiency by taking a brief nap or by taking a walk
To combat procrastination, you should use your moments of strength to eliminate things that can easily distract or exhaust you.
Set goals, make plans, and create a routine
Set challenging and meaningful goals to maximize motivation and best procrastination:
- Write down what you want to accomplish and when and be specific.
- Break down the goal into short-term milestones or objectives.
- Create daily activities that you have to execute to reach the milestones.
Whatever you’re procrastinating on, take the following steps:
- Set a specific goal and timeline for yourself
- Break down the goal into smaller objectives
- Create daily activities to reach those objectives