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The Science of Procrastination. How often do you put off something you SHOULD be doing and wait until much, much later to try to get it done? How often to you WISH you had not put that task off until later? So why can’t you seem to stop procrastinating?.

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How often do you put off something you SHOULD be doing and wait until much, much later to try to get it done?

How often to you WISH you had not put that task off until later?

So why can’t you seem to stop procrastinating?

psychological cause

There is a human tendency to overestimate or underestimate the value of a reward based on TEMPORAL PROXIMITY

      • Temporal = Time
      • We don’t like to wait!
Psychological Cause
psychological causes

Example: Given a choice of taking $100 dollars today, or waiting one month for $10 dollars more, most people would choose not to wait!

Psychological Causes
psychological cause1

However, given the choice to take $100 a year from now, or wait a year and a month and receive $110:

      • Most people reason that if they can wait a whole year, they can also wait one more month and get the extra $10
  • The time difference AND value difference are the exact same!
Psychological Cause
psychological cause2

Human motivation is influenced by how imminent the reward is perceived to be.

  • The further away the reward is, the more we discount its value.
  • We like to have what we want RIGHT NOW!
Psychological Cause
psychological cause3

So, being on

  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Twitter
  • Tumblr
  • Etc.

is more immediately rewarding than studying for a test …

…until TEMPORAL PROXIMITY increases (your test gets closer), and you cram!

Psychological Cause

Dopamine alters the neurons in your brain and makes you want to repeat the behavior

  • Dopamine is released when you do things like play video games or browse the internet
  • That’s a problem, because with those things, you get small, continuous rewards
  • The reward for writing an essay is only once, and it’s in the future.

Unfortunately, there isn’t just one solution to this problem, BUT there are some things you can do:

  • 1. Try rewarding yourself in intervals!

Snack, internet use, other enjoyable activities


2. The Pomodoro Technique

  • Makes use of a timer
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes while you stay on task
  • Then, take a 5 minute break and give yourself a reward (snack, facebook check, etc)
  • Then, start the working clock again
    • Gradually increase the amount of work time

3. Acknowledge your procrastination!

  • “I do procrastinate! I always wait until the last minute and do a quick and shoddy job, when I could have done a better job by starting earlier!”

Self-imposed, costly DEADLINES can be very effective!

  • “I must get my studying done by 6 pm, or I will not go to the movie with my group of friends!”

4. Try to enjoy the PROCESS of achieving something (trick your brain!).

“I’m getting smarter!”

“I enjoy being productive!”

“I am great!”

“This is great!”


5. Make a list of reasons you WANT to accomplish a particular goal.

Writing it down reinforces your commitment.

This minimizes indecision.


6. Remove your distractions and temptations

  • Turn off the internet
  • Uninstall your favorite game
  • Work somewhere else

Putting obstacles in the way of your procrastination tools can help keep you on track.