How to Keep Procrastination From Draining Your Time and Money

Until science develops the perfect app for circumventing procrastination, the secret to nipping your own bad habit is to establish mechanisms to control your deadlines.

How costly is procrastination? For those who put off refinancing their mortgages during the financial crisis, the median amount squandered was around $11,500. That's a lot of change tossed down the drain due to weak wills and propensities for inactivity. 

Ben Steverman from Bloomberg recently penned an article detailing the above and other examples of how procrastination defies "traditional economic models that assume everyone acts rationally." Steverman explains how delaying an activity sacrifices long term goals in favor of immediate satisfaction, even if that satisfaction stems from simply not doing anything at all. The urge to procrastinate doesn't just emerge amidst trivial matters. Steverman cites multiple studies that show how even those suffering from diseases require electronic reminders to keep them on their treatment schedule.

What's the best way to avoid procrastination pratfalls? Outside of buying a calendar and forcing yourself to keep it updated, the most effective methods seems to be the use of reminders and the establishment of task automation systems. The former refers to alarms, e-calendar reminders, and other nudging devices. One of the biggest reasons why procrastination comes back to haunt people is because they forget the duties they put off. Continuous drumming up of "to-dos" will alleviate that.

The other option is to take the responsibility for tasks out of your hands altogether. Setting up automatic bill pay is an example. Another is to have retirement savings taken directly out of your paycheck. Automating as much as you can now will prevent procrastination from really hurting you later.

For more on procrastination and how to overcome it, check out this clip from the Big Think interview with psychologist and behavioral economist Dan Ariely, then of MIT but now a professor at Duke University:

Read more at Bloomberg

Photo credit: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal

The climate change we're witnessing is more dramatic than we might think.

Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA
Surprising Science

A lazy buzz phrase – 'Is this the new normal?' – has been doing the rounds as extreme climate events have been piling up over the past year. To which the riposte should be: it's worse than that – we're on the road to even more frequent, more extreme events than we saw this year.

Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less