We now know a lot more about procrastination and willpower than we ever did before. Where procrastination was a weakness and willpower was something akin to the force, we now understand it’s a little bit more complicated than that.
Procrastination, for example, isn’t so much a weakness. Instead, among other things, it is a conflict between the now and the future, where we overvalue the moment and undervalue the future. This is something known in the psychology lexicon as temporal discounting. Yes, of course I’ll be happy when the project is finished, but that’s weeks down the line! And organizing my sock drawer is something that will give me satisfaction right now.
Similarly, we understand willpower a great deal better as well. Known as ego depletion in the literature it is far more easily affected than we thought, with controlling your emotions, exercising and not eating that last piece of pie all affecting it. And yes, relaxing, sleeping and having a good time all restore it, but so does – funnily enough – glucose.

So what does that mean for reducing procrastination through willpower?

  1. Don’t exhaust yourself
    Not just mentally, but also physically and social. All your willpower is drawn from a central pool so try not to deplete it. Sometimes, for example, a bit of alone time away from the hustle and bustle can be very useful if you want to avoid procrastination. Similarly, don’t consume media that’s emotionally and mentally exhausting as this will give you less resources for the task ahead.
  2. Don’t plan to do everything at once
    Instead, work in bursts of activity. This is useful for two reasons, first of all when willpower is depleted it needs to be restored. Time away from your task will let you do that. Secondly, if you’re a procrastinator convincing yourself to do 30 minutes or an hour of work is far easier, while saying that you’re going to work for the rest of the day will have you put off that start time further and further. And it’s far better to do 30 minutes of work than to do none at all.
    Of course if you do follow this path, make certain to not let yourself get distracted when you’re doing your work. This can be very hard, especially as this is often when those killer ideas for your new book, a dinner idea or a technological invention come to you. For that reason I suggest you always have a notebook next to your work space, so that you can jot these ideas down and come back to them when you’ve done your
  3. Get enough sleep
    Not only does sleep help you with learning, but it helps you boost your willpower as well. So make certain that you get enough of it if you want to beat your procrastination! That way your internal batteries will be charged and you’ll be able to get going. To not even mention all the other benefits that a good night’s sleep gives you.
  4. Visualize success
    Since a great deal of procrastination is due to us not valuing the future enough, we need to make the future more important. One technique is to actively spend time imagining the future in as much detail as possible. In this way the future becomes less abstract, which will make it easier to value it at what it is worth.
    Also, make certain that you visualize what will happen if you succeed. It turns out that focusing on success is far more likely to motivate us than focusing on what happens if we fail. Perhaps that’s because negativity is likely to fill us with an even greater sense of dread? Whatever the reason may be, it has been href="http://jamesclear.com/time-inconsistency">shown to work.
  5. Remove procrastination triggers
    Whoever said “Everybody is an island” really didn’t know much about psychology. Instead, we’re all interconnected with everybody and everything around us. Therefore, it is important to remove those things that trigger thoughts of time-wasting.
    So take down those posters or beaches, remove your gaming computer from your office space and put the magazines in another room. Whatever you might associate with wasting time needs to go. Be hard on yourself here, so that not procrastinating becomes that much easier.
  6. Create immediate consequences
    You’re not sure if that’s going to work? Then consider making the consequences of procrastination more acute. Perhaps you can publicly state how much work you’re going to do this week, with some kind of system to make certain you can prove that you’ve actually done it (and more importantly not hide that you haven’t). In this way you can use your fear of public shaming to get the work done.
    Alternatively you can put money on it. Work out with a friend how much you’re supposed to do and pay them (or some charity) every time you don’t reach your milestones. This works even better if you do it both ways as then it becomes a game between you as you both struggle to keep your ledger in the plus.
    If you do follow this strategy remember that the point here is to motivate yourself, not stress yourself out. So set achievable goals. Also, make certain that you actually end up paying. Perhaps have a third friend hold a base sum for the two of you, so that one you can’t rescind and thereby render the whole effort moot, because when that’s happened at least once it becomes a much less useful anti-procrastination tool.

Last thoughts

In the human brain there is a mismatch. Our conscious minds dwell, along with our bodies, in the 21st century. Our unconscious mind, however, are still roaming the savannahs of yesteryear, where we didn’t need to work on projects that lasted several months and excel was something you did in hunting, not on your laptop.
In order to bring our unconscious mind into alignment with our conscious intentions we often have to resort to trickery. For that we need a toolbox and I’ve just given you your first hammers and saws. That’s not to mean there aren’t more tools out there. Keep looking and keep reading and I’m sure you’ll find a few more. Just as long as you don’t use the searching as an excuse to keep you from doing your work!

Author's Bio: 

Laura Callisen is a writing blogger and content manager at GrabMyEssay. She is eager to share here experiences and techniques with people looking for improving their writings and providing tips for effective personal growth. Visit her social profiles to find more : Google+, Facebook, Twitter