We assume that the brains of procrastinators are wired entirely differently than the brains of non-procrastinators, but they’re not. We all wait until the last minute, which is the point where leaving an unpleasant task undone actually feels worse than going ahead and doing it.
The only real difference between non-procrastinators and procrastinators is that for non-procrastinators the last minute comes sooner! If procrastination is the result of being slow — for whatever reason — to reach the last minute, then there’s a fairly obvious solution: Deliberately make the last minute come sooner! With a little bit of creativity, you can set things up to get yourself in gear sooner so that you can waste less time and energy avoiding an unpleasant task that you’ll eventually end up doing anyway.
For example, suppose there’s a report you absolutely dread working on that’s due in a month. You figure the report will take several miserable hours to complete. Instead of, as usual, putting off the unpleasant task and allowing it to make you miserable for the next three weeks or more, you decide to deliberately make the last minute come sooner. How? You write out a check for $5,000 to a political party you absolutely despise.
Then you give the check to someone you trust with strict orders to mail it next Tuesday unless you show up with the finished report before then. Will you still dread doing the report? You betcha, you will. And will you still put it off until the last minute? You betcha you will. But by making the last minute come sooner, you’ll get the job done sooner and suffer much less.
Contributors: Steve Levinson from Behavioral Dynamics, Inc.