All of us have gone through this situation one time or another in our lives: there is something we should do, and there is nothing to stop us from doing it but… still, we just don’t do it. We keep on postponing it again and again.
This is called the Akrasia effect. It can be interpreted simply like this: Our brain is tempted by immediate satisfaction (being lazy and not doing anything) than long-term benefits (finishing the task and achieving some result).
The thing is we keep on postponing even when the task is not difficult. Sometimes, it can even be very enjoyable. We postpone not because we don’t want to do it, but because we don’t want to start doing it. The most difficult thing for us is not to actually do the job, but to escaping from the lazy mode.
Yesterday I had a long talk with my friend on this, mostly on how to stop this effect’s influence on his life ’cause it has been causing him too much distress.
The piece of advice that I gave him is to minimize the task that he needs to do. If he has to clean his house, just thinking of it would be too much for him and he will never start. So, scale down the task to, for example, cleaning his room instead. Still, he doesn’t want to start this new task? No problem, scale it down more: cleaning his desk. Still too much? How about just cleaning one corner of the desk? Still? Okay, just put a pen on the desk back to its proper place!
The point is: Minimizing the task will cheat the lazy self inside of us. Just picking up a pen and putting it back into the pen case – doing that feels like doing nothing, doesn’t it? Your lazy inner self will not stop you from doing that. Yet once you finish this very small task, you have crossed the border of “postponing” and “starting doing things”. You will have to very tendency to clean the corner of your desk, then the whole desk, then your room and the whole house after that. As long as you cross the border, there is nothing to hold you back. And, voilà!
I recommend this tip to my friend because it worked for me. There are many times that I find myself finishing 2 hours of household work with the beginning of just lifting up something from the floor or similar small moves.
So, if you are under the heavy influence of the Akrasia effect, give it a try! Good luck!
2 thoughts on “How To Stop Postponing What You Should Do”
Those are all good ideas. My trick: I commit to doing whatever it is that I don’t want to do for 15 minutes. I set a timer, and when the 15 minutes are up, I can stop if I want to. A lot of the time, though, I just keep going.
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