A Trick to Stop Procrastination


Scientists Lewis and Oizerman have conducted the study, opening a new way to fight procrastination. There are dozens of such methods, but the results of the study provide new information about the problem of laziness and the desire to procrastinate and postpone everything for later.


In recent years, the word “procrastination” was almost the most popular reason to do nothing. Still, “procrastination” sounds more significant than “I am lazy”, and in general more scientific.

Assuming that procrastination is a disease, this may turn out to be the most terrible and infectious disease in human history. Everybody is exposed to it. Some people are able to fight the symptoms better than others, but no one has the immunity. Therefore, the “doctors” of productivity, such as Leo Babauta, are trying to instill good habits and help us get rid of procrastination. And if Babauta’s approach is mainly motivational, the approach suggested by Neil Lewis and Daphne Oizerman is more scientific.

Lewis and Oizerman are scientists from Michigan State University and the University of Southern California. In a recent study, they tried to prove what motivated our procrastination and whether it could be eradicated. It is worth saying they have succeeded.

The scientists have used the theory that we unconsciously divide ourselves into two personalities: the present “I” and the future “I”. And if the present “I” is in charge of the life, the future “I” resembles the most common clerk, who is not remembered by anyone.

Because of this, all our actions are aimed at meeting the needs of our “I”. Why should we save money for retirement, if we want to buy a new smartphone? Why should we give up a sandwich before going to bed, if we want it now and if the beach season will start in more than three weeks? The scientists would like to answer this question.

What can make us think more about the future “I” and less about the present “I”?

Through a series of experiments, Lewis and Oizerman have determined that if the people are said that a certain number of days, not months or years, is left to the event they subconsciously think that it will come sooner.

The participants of the experiment were asked to imagine that they had a child and he/she needed to go to college in 18 years. The other group was told that the child would go to college in 6,570 days.

The second group of volunteers decided to save money four times earlier than the first one. Other conditions were equal.

Scientists did not give specific advice on how to use the results of their experiment in practice. Perhaps we can assume that all deadlines should be given in days, not months or years. Then we will assume that they are closer than they actually are. And it will have a positive effect on our desire not to procrastinate.