Research on procrastination

I read an interesting article on procrastination today and I thought I would share some of my thoughts (surprise, surprise). The article covered some of the latest research regarding procrastination and why we do it, as well as techniques that might help deal with it. Nothing really new or groundbreaking, but it’s always helpful to read stuff like that, at least for me.

(Side note: I also found a pretty humorous video that might help you snap out of it and realize how much time you waste avoiding just getting stuff done.)

Procrastination seems to be the weak link in the GTD method. David Allen apparently assumes that we don’t get stuff done because we’re not clear on what we should do next, or because we don’t have a solid system for processing inputs and so forth. While I think that’s a big part of it, I also think that a big reason we don’t get stuff done is that we don’t want to do it. I can put all of my projects into GTD (and I do) and I can categorize them endlessly by context, level of effort, dependencies, etc, etc, but at the end of the day, I’m putting some of that stuff off because I just do NOT want to do it.

In addition to the techniques they gave in the book, I would add two more that I’ve found have worked for me:

  1. Commit to things by a certain date when others are depending on you to have it done. Guilt can be a powerful motivator.
  2. Replace motivation with blind habit.

#2 is something I’ve talked about before. It’s worked well for me to replace certain motivational needs with blind habits, like exercising or keeping my life semi-organized, but most of the examples given in the article are for one-off things like school projects or reports for work. How do habits help in those situations? Maybe having a habit to work on XX every day for 30 mins, where XX is whatever you’re supposed to be working on? Maybe having a habit to start something every Thursday that you’ve been putting off? What do you think?