Counter intuitively, recent research shows that we may be more inclined to "pre-crastinate" in order to get tasks out of the way. David Rosenbaum and his colleagues at Penn State tested whether people use as little effort as possible doing routine actions. In their experiment, participants were asked to walk down an alley, pick up a bucket along the way, and set it down at the end of the alley. They could choose between two buckets - one that was initially closer to them or one that was closer to the end point. Each bucket carried the same load. People tended to choose the bucket that was closer from the start, even though it would have been easier to carry the second bucket. When asked about their choice, they explained that they wanted to get the task of carrying the bucket out of the way as soon as possible, hinting that keeping goals in mind places some sort of cognitive burden that exceeds the actual burden of carrying out the task.
But what else affects procrastination habits? A study published in Psychological Science found that procrastination is heritable, and may be based in impulsivity. So looking to your parents may be a good way to understand your own procrastination habits.
Still, blaming your parents for your outstanding ability to put things off is unacceptable. I find that the best way to overcome procrastination is to force yourself to do something - anything - to get you closer to your goal. I haven't been writing in awhile, and although this blog post isn't my best piece of work, I've started writing and that's what really matters. (Of course, that might have just been me self-justifying my actions - but that's for another post...)
Hopefully I'll have a better plan of attack for my next article, but until then, I've got you thinking about what you could be doing right now, haven't I? Release that cognitive burden and get it over with already.
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