3 science-backed ways to fend off procrastination

Increase your immediate rewards, make the future more real, and force yourself to start. Go ahead and eat that cookie, too.

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How to fend off procrastination

I am a professional writer, which means as soon as I get an assignment, I sit right down and reorganize my desk.

Then I clean my apartment and make myself a snack. Then I do all that again.

I take my job so seriously that I conducted exhaustive research for this article about procrastination by putting it off until the absolute last minute. You’re welcome.

There are several valid explanations for why we procrastinate, but let’s focus on one key aspect: self-control. We lack self-control because our unconscious decision-making mechanisms prefer the tangible, emotionally satisfying rewards of doing something right now. Who cares about two future marshmallows when you can have one right now?

This is what makes exercise, dieting and saving for retirement so difficult. When rewards are months, years or decades away, it takes a measure of willpower not many can muster. Unfortunately, the same pain of procrastination applies to writers of all stripes.

How to be more productive

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