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:
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