When I sat down to write this story, I immediately remembered that I wanted to make a list of possible guests for my half-birthday dinner party… and began doing so. Yes, I was procrastinating writing a story about procrastination. According to Forbes contributor Kevin Kruse, people procrastinate because they “underestimate the power of present emotions versus future emotions.” If I imagine myself at 5 p.m. struggling to write an article knowing that I have to meet a friend for drinks at 6 p.m., I should envision my future self. Will I be stressed? Yes, of course. So to avoid that inevitable strain on future me, present me should immediately take to the keyboard and get writing. Kruse argues that “procrastination can be overcome” just this way: “by finding a way to connect to your future self, now.” In order to do so, he says, you have to change your perspective.
He cites a Psychological Science study in which participants were instructed to imagine they had a newborn baby. Half of the people were told they would have to pay for their child to go to college in 18 years. The other half were told they would have to pay for their child to go to college in 6570 days. This is the same amount of time, but the researchers wanted to know if the way they counted time influenced when they would start saving. They found that the parents who looked at it with a 6570-days perspective starting saving four times sooner than parents who had the 18-years perspective. In terms of my story, I should think about the afternoon in minutes, not hours. Three hours seems like plenty of time to write two stories, but it takes me about 60 minutes to do a story from start to finish. I have 180 minutes, 120 of which I need to spend writing. That doesn’t seem like very much time, so if you’ll excuse me, I have to start writing my next story.
To learn more ways to combat procrastination, read Eat That Frog.
What do you think of the idea of connecting your present self with your future self to stop procrastination?