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How to deal with Procrastination

Updated: Nov 22, 2020

Are you procrastinating too much? Is it hindering your progress in studies? Learning how to deal with procrastination is an important study skill to master if you want to excel in your examinations. Today, Math Lobby will be teaching you how to deal with procrastination. Let’s get into it!

In our lives, we are bound to meet setbacks regardless of the stage of the journey we embark on. It might range from simply missing deadlines to causing a business to go bust, but there is one thing in particular that people then to do when they are unmotivated to approach a particular topic or subject. It is silent, it creeps to you unnoticed and lurks around your mind. This “evil entity” attaches itself to you, and leeches off one of the most valuable things you have in your life - Time.

Yes, I am talking about the nemesis of all students – Procrastination. This nemesis of ours, can be around us throughout our lifetime, be it in studies, work, the dieting plans you have told yourself over and over again to commit to, or even the Sunday gym classes that have just seemed to fallen through after a session or two. Now, have you ever wondered why humans procrastinate? Or have you ever wondered what is the cause of procrastination? If you have been a victim to this nemesis, read on and learn how you can eliminate it out of your life!

Today, Math Lobby will be teaching you how to stop and eliminate procrastination in the short-term, and how to deter it from our lives in the long term. Procrastination stems from the human nature’s attempt in avoidance of a task that needs to be done by a certain deadline. A further elaboration can be said to be the accustomed and deliberate shunning of an individual’s responsibilities despite clearly knowing that there are adverse consequences tagged to it. In economics, there is a phenomenon called “time inconsistency”. It is essentially a behavior or situation which an individual’s decision in the present as compared to the future will differ significantly over time.

Now, let’s answer these questions:

a) Would you rather choose to have $500 today or $505 tomorrow?

b) And subsequently, would you rather choose $500 in 365 days, or $505 in 366 days?

When these questions were asked, the people involved has to pick the same choice for b) as for a). Majority of the people tend have inconsistency and pick “$500 today” and “$505 in 366days”, and this is a very good example of how time inconsistency plays a part in our lives. People are inclined to pick “$505 in 366 days” because since they have already been waiting for 365 days, another day will not make that significant of a difference. However, the same group of people that chose “$500 today” over “$505 tomorrow” is under the concept of “immediacy effect” or “temporal discounting”.

In our society which is fast-paced and hectic, people then to value the present more than the future, simply because they do not appreciate the fact of what a long-term investment in something you do might bring sufficiently. Like what we always say, “You reap what you sow.” In order to reap the benefits of the future, you will have to stay firm and be committed to the plans you have created for yourself now. Having the $500 today might give you a sense of security, the actual pleasure of owning that $500 in hand at the present, but we should never neglect the fact that a projected satisfaction in the future will not bring the same level of satisfaction, or even much more than the present.

Here is how we can stop procrastinating in our lives:

1) “Temptation Bundling”- Attach what you love to do with the things you procrastinate on

“Temptation bundling” is a term coined by Wharton operations and information management professor Katherine Milkman. The basic concept is, ”Only do what you love, when you are doing what you procrastinate on”, meaning that if you love to indulge in a hearty meal at the McDonald’s, tell yourself that you can only have it when you are doing that 500-words essay that’s laying on the table. Or if you love to play the guitar and sing, but have to memorize the mathematical formulas of trigonometry, then compose a song filled with the relevant equations and sing your heart out! More often than not, when we associate things that we love and the things that we procrastinate on, we tend to be much more productive than usual. Hence, why not give it a shot!

2) Make the perceived consequences of your procrastination more immediate!

This method works similar to the concept of “temptation bundling”. However, instead of attaching what you love to do with the things you procrastinate on, you are attaching what is non-beneficial to you as a consequence of the things you are procrastinating on.

An example of how this works:

Let’s say you have a dieting plan that you want to start working on for a month, but cannot resist the temptation to cut out on the unhealthy snacks and junk food. What you can do is get a weighing machine, and set a target to hit by the end of every week. Rather than only weighing in at the end of the month, which is inefficient in keeping track of your progress, weigh in every few days for the month and track your progress. Any increasing numbers on the weighing scale will send an immediate signal to your brain, and tune it to make you more determined and motivated to stick to your plan. Decreasing values on the scale will further empower your satisfactory response, and make you continue to push yourself harder for it.

This works exactly the same for students studying. Hang a calendar in front of your study desk, then set a realistic target everyday of what you want to finish on when you wake up, rather than compiling a whole month worth of assignments and getting overwhelmed by the mere view of it. It demotivates you and procrastination will prevail further! When you hit those targets by the end of the day, it will continue to motivate yourself to study harder. However, if you procrastinate, you will see the calendar reminding you of the number of days decreasing gradually and your stress response will kick in. In contrary to popular belief, moderate amount of stress will increase your productivity throughout your life, so do not shun it! The only way to grow is to embrace it and push yourself beyond those limits!

I hope that today you have learnt the definition and the cause of procrastination, and how you can overcome it and excel in being a better student. Stay strong, study smart and help each another out! Wishing all students a successful and enjoyable journey with Math Lobby!

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